For the next couple weeks, pet owners need to be under increased alert during the scariest season of the year.

Increased Danger through March

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Those who let their pets outdoors are strongly urged to keep a close eye on their furbabies now that the coyote mating season is underway. Their safety is at increased risk because these predators are the most active.

Coyotes begin mating during the winter and will then have their pups in the early spring. During this time, coyotes are more aggressive, voracious and emboldened. Female coyotes will den with their young during the warmer months while their mate will travel greater distances and hunt more intensively to provide for their young.

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New York Upstate warned that coyotes are opportunistic eaters and will go after cats, dogs, rabbits and other domesticated animal if it means a free meal.  Wildlife Biologist Steven Heerkens told the outlet:

The pet issue really comes down to just individual coyotes learning to go after cats for example or potentially going after smaller dog breeds. It’s not something rampant in the population, it’s literally just individuals that have learned that they can catch cats and if they can, then they will.

For those who have large dogs and may feel secure that coyotes are the least of their problem - think again.

Coyotes have learned how to get the drop on even the strongest, largest dog. Packs have been documented sending out a single member to bait the dog and lead it into an ambush.

While a pet owner may think their large dog will win any fight, any animal will struggle to hold their own in a fight against multiple opponents.

Coyotes tend to be 3 to 4 feet in length and weigh up to 45 pounds. They are very common in the state of New York and some even have wolf DNA mixed in, which can make them larger and stronger than average Eastern coyotes.

Keeping Pets Safe

A coyote in British Columbia, Canada.
Harry Collins

Now through March, pet owners are encouraged to not let their animals outside without supervision. For dogs, owners are encouraged to keep their pets on a leash and, should they need to be unattended for any reason, to keep them in an enclosed run.

It should be noted that those with female dogs who enter their heat cycle, male coyotes will be attracted to them. Additionally, unneutered male dogs may be lured away by the scent of female coyotes in heat.

During coyote mating season, pet owners are also tasked to make their property less inviting to these animals by removing bird feeders that attract other prey animals like squirrels and birds. People should also clear their yard of garbage and waste.

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Additionally, when taking a pet outside, owners are encouraged to step out first and make noise as to scare away any coyotes that may be nearby. Ways to deter these creatures include whistles, noisemakers, or clapping your hands while making noise.

Coyotes tend to be more active between dusk and dawn, so owners are encouraged to keep these suggestions in mind if they need to take their pet outside during these hours.

Watch the video below that provides more tips and suggestions to keep your pets safe during this time of year:

For those who are wondering what can be done to protect their cats, owners are strongly encouraged to keep their felines inside until coyote mating season has run its course.

Same can be said for small, outdoor pets like rabbits. For those with chickens, it's advised extra wiring is erected, especially around the base of the coop to prevent coyotes from digging their way into a buffet.

Lastly, before people say coyotes were here first - stop it. Coyotes began showing up in New York between the 30s and 40s as wolves dwindled in population. They became fully established in the state in the 1970s.

Thus, this technically makes coyotes an invasive species. Use that information, via the DEC, as you will.

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