Officials are warning New Yorkers they will likely see an increase of coyotes in the near future. The animals could attack humans or kill your pet.

As the season changes from winter to spring, on Monday, the DEC issued guidance on preventing conflicts between people and coyotes.

"This time of year, DEC sees an uptick in questions from New Yorkers regarding coyotes and their behavior," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "While coyotes are an integral and beneficial part of our natural ecosystem, we strongly encourage all New Yorkers to do their part and follow our common-sense tips to ensure coyotes remain wary of people and minimize the chance of conflicts."

As the weather starts to warm, many of New York's coyotes will set up dens for pups that will arrive this spring. Conflicts with people and pets may result as coyotes tend to be territorial around den sites during the spring through mid-summer period as they forage almost constantly to provide food for their young, officials warn.

To reduce or prevent potential conflicts, DEC recommends the public:

  • Not feed coyotes and discourage others from doing so;
  • Reduce the risks of making unintentional food sources available to attract coyotes and other wildlife and increase risks to people and pets, including:
  • Not feed pets outside;
  • Make any garbage inaccessible to coyotes and other animals;
    Fence or enclose compost piles so they are not accessible to coyotes; and
  • Eliminate the availability of bird seed. Concentrations of birds and rodents that come to feeders can attract coyotes. If you see a coyote near your bird feeder, clean up waste seed and spillage to remove the attractant.
  • Don't allow coyotes to approach people or pets;
  • Teach children to appreciate coyotes from a distance;
  • Be aggressive in behavior if you see a coyote: Stand tall and hold arms out to look large. If a coyote lingers for too long, then make loud noises, wave your arms, and throw sticks and stones;
  • Do not allow pets to run free. Supervise all outdoor pets to keep them safe from coyotes and other wildlife, especially at sunset and at night. Small dogs and cats are especially vulnerable to coyotes;
  • Fence yards to help deter coyotes. The fence should be tight to the ground, preferably extending six inches below ground level and taller than four feet;
  • Remove brush and tall grass from around your home to reduce protective cover for coyotes. Coyotes are typically secretive and like areas where they can hide;
  • Contact local police department and DEC regional office for assistance if coyotes are exhibiting bold behaviors and have little or no fear of people. Seeing a coyote occasionally throughout the year is not evidence of bold behavior; and

In most cases, coyotes avoid people as much as possible. But, if coyotes learn to associate people with food, such as garbage or pet food, they may lose their natural fear of humans and the potential for close encounters or conflicts increases, according to the DEC.

Officials also recommend not allowing cats and small dogs to roam free.  Small dogs are at the greatest risk of being harmed or killed when coyotes are being territorial during denning and pup-rearing.

Dogs should not be left unattended in backyards at night and should remain supervised.

Owners of large- and medium-sized dogs have less to worry about but should still take precautions, officials say.