RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- It's coyote sighting season in North Carolina.
According to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, coyote sightings take a large uptick in November and December because that's the time of year that the younger coyotes start leaving their parents to find a mate and establish a territory of their own.
"This is a time of year when the coyote teenagers are starting to run around the ones that were born earlier and like April or May, now they're starting to grow up and they're starting to leave the pack and wander around on their own, and they don't really know where they're going. So sometimes they show up in funny places," NC State Professor Dr. Roland Kays said.
Coyotes are native only to North America, and they currently inhabit everywhere from Alaska down to Guatemala. Sometimes the canines are mistaken for red wolves, but they are smaller, have more pointed and erect ears and longer, more slender snouts. Coyotes average about 2 feet tall and 4 feet long.
Coyotes usually leave humans alone, but they have been known to cause problems with pets. Large pets can be viewed as a threat or competition, while smaller pets are a possible source of food.
"They don't like people. They try to avoid people as much as they can. They're gonna be out in the woods, but they might be looking at your backyard. So that's why you want to not have any food that's going to lure them in anything else," Kays said.
Coyotes are most active at sunrise and sunset, so you should be on high alert for coyotes if you're out with your pets at that time.
If you see a coyote, here's what the NC Wildlife Resources Commission says you should do:
- Stand tall and be assertive.
- Haze the coyote until it leaves the area. Hazing can be done by waving your arms, making loud noises and/or throwing small objects in a coyote's direction.
- Do not run away. Running away from a coyote could trigger its instinct to chase.
- Report coyotes if you suspect they have rabies. If a coyote fails to respond to direct hazing or acts aggressively for no reason, report this to your local animal control.