Though mid-January marks the beginning of their mating season, coyotes can often be spotted in residential areas of North Carolina before then.
That’s because young coyotes take this time to explore new areas where they can potentially settle, Roland Kays, a scientist at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, told The Charlotte Observer.
“By this time, the young that were born earlier this year kind of become curious teenagers,” Kays said. “They’re off exploring new areas looking for places where they can establish a territory and a future.”
There are more sightings during the colder months, but in North Carolina, coyotes can be spotted year-round, Kays said.
“They’re generally less common in more developed areas,” he added. “They’re more likely to be in the green space and more out in the countryside, but every year they seem to be spotted more and more in urban areas.”
With more coyotes roaming the area, should Charlotte residents be worried? Here’s what to know about their behavior, and how to keep them away from your home.
Are coyotes in NC dangerous?
Coyotes are not likely to approach humans, but they have been known to attack pets, Kays said.
To stave them off, Kays advised against leaving any type of pet food out that could entice coyotes.
“The biggest way is to make sure there’s no food sources,” said Kays. “If people are actively feeding stray cats, that’s a big attraction to coyotes. Coyotes are generally going to avoid your house, your neighborhood and your yard unless there’s a food source there.”
Since coyotes are less likely to approach humans, pet owners should always supervise their animals when they are outside, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission biologist Falyn Owens told The Charlotte Observer in January.
What to do if a coyote attacks your pet
If a coyote bites or attacks your pet, the first thing you should do is get it away from your pet, according to Washington state-based Angel Pet Hospital. You can do that by distracting the coyote with an object.
Once the coyote is away, you can assess your pet’s injuries. If your pet suffered severe injuries, you should wrap them in a towel or blanket and seek immediate medical attention, the hospital advised.
You should also check if your pet is up to date on their rabies vaccination. If your pet’s vaccination has expired, you may have to quarantine them to ensure they didn’t contract rabies during the attack.