INDIANAPOLIS -- Coyote sightings are on the rise in parts of central Indiana and officials are warning people to be cautious and keep an eye on their smaller pets.
According to the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources coyotes are native to Indiana and were a rare sight until the early 1970s when urban development began to expand into more forestry areas.
Today, coyotes can be found throughout the state and are a common sight in urban areas as suburbs grow and their habitats continue to shrink.
Coyotes generally come into residential areas when they're looking for a source of food. That could include trash, your pet's food or even your small pets.
"We see coyotes during the day, during the night," said Franklin Township resident Austin Carpenter. "I mean, we've seen them at all times."
Carpenter has lived in the Smithfield Neighborhood and says his cat became the victim of a hungry coyote last year.
"We went out to look for it and sure enough it was gone," said Carpenter. "My neighbor actually caught video of it getting the cat."
Just down the street from Carpenter, Sherry Keown said she had her three dogs running outside around 10:30 one morning when a coyote popped out from the edge of her fence.
She quickly scooped up her pups and grabbed her phone to snap a few photos.
"The coyote wasn't frightful at all," said Keown. "It just looked at me and kept going. It could have charged me because."
We know they're out there, but why?
Indiana's Department of Natural Resources says the average suburb makes a really great coyote habitat since we're using their land to build on.
"Coyotes are very talented at living on the fringes of our dwellings and knowing how to live around without being seen," said Megan Dillon, Urban Wildlife Biologist with the Indiana DNR.
And while Indiana has its fair share of coyotes, Dillon says people often confuse foxes, coyotes and wolves - although there isn't any known population of wolves in the state.
"Most wolf sightings are determined to be either coyote or dog," said Dillon "They can be similar looking, but that is often what misleads us because a coyote is a tall and lanky creature."
While we can't get rid of them, there are steps you can take to make sure your home isn't as attractive to them.
Dillon says the number one thing you can do is to make sure your trash bins are secured.
When it comes to your pets, Dillon says if you have small animals its best to keep them on a leash and make sure they are supervised at all times when they are outside.
And if you do encounter a coyote Dillon say to do something "scary" like yell or throw something.
"Remind it that people are scary and that it should keep its distance," said
Most importantly, they say you should never corner or chase a coyote.
Coyote Prevention Techniques:
- Feed pets indoors when possible; pick up leftovers if feeding outdoors and store pet and livestock feed where it’s inaccessible to wildlife.
- Eliminate water bowls and other artificial water sources (if possible).
- Position bird feeders in a location that is less likely to attract small animals or bring the feeders in at night (to keep coyotes from feeding on the bird food or the other animals).
- Do not discard edible garbage where coyotes can get to it. Secure garbage containers
- Trim and clean shrubbery near ground level to reduce hiding cover for coyotes or their prey.
- Do not allow pets to run free and provide secure nighttime housing for them.
- If you start seeing coyotes around your home, discourage them by shouting, making loud noises or throwing rocks but NEVER corner a coyote – always give the coyote a free escape route.
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