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How to protect your pets from coyotes

February is a peak month for coyotes' breeding season.

MUSKEGON COUNTY, Mich. — February through mid-March is peak breeding season for coyotes, and with suburban development in rural areas expanding, animal control experts are seeing more of the wildlife among homes.

Carl Johnson, owner of Great Lakes Nuisance Animal Control LLC in Muskegon, said he's seen a spike in coyote reports over the past five years.

"Everybody's building new houses. Everybody's encroaching on their environment...Coyotes are super adaptable, and they will survive anything. When they do that, they’re eating your pets," he said.

Reports of coyotes attacking small pets like cats and dogs circulate each year. Johnson said his team receives up to about two dozen calls about coyotes annually.

Johnson said the best thing pet owners can do is to stay with and or keep an eye on their pets when they are outdoors. Owners should also refrain from leaving pets' food or water bowls outside.

"Most of our calls when we go to our calls, whether it’s a coyote or a raccoon or skunks, you’ll see where people are feeding their animals on their deck. Keep the food source away and the animals will have no reason to be there," Johnson explained.

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It is rare for coyotes to attack humans, but cases have occurred. This January, a New Hampshire man strangled a coyote with his bare hands after it tried to attack his 2-year-old son. Johnson said in most cases coyotes don't want anything to do with humans but suggests keeping an eye on any small children while they're outdoors.

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"The probability of it is pretty slim, but they are a wild animal, and they could see a small child as prey," he said.

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