Coyotes increasingly common nationwide

WASHINGTON — Their distinctive howl is ubiquitous in old Western movies,
but
the coyotes that once roamed the prairies are no longer limited to the west.
Coyotes, members of the dog family, are now found throughout North America,
including the D.C. area.

“It’s a very common call that we get, especially down in the South Riding and
western Fairfax area — you’ll get a lot of calls for coyote sightings,” says
Tom
Koenig, director of Loudoun County’s Department of Animal Services.

Coyotes — bigger than a fox and smaller than a wolf — have adapted to urban
sprawl,
and sometimes hunt for food in neighborhoods.

“Keep your trash cans covered,” Koenig advises.

Because coyotes prey on small animals, they can be a threat to small dogs and
cats.

If you see a coyote, “Try not to engage them; don’t play with them; don’t try
to
entice them. Just let them go and they’ll run off and find their place,”
Koenig
says.

However, if you see a coyote acting strangely, such as not scaring off, that’s
when you want to call animal control.

“They generally are more afraid of us than we are of them, and they’ll move
on,”
Koenig says.

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