Coyotes and people have coexisted in peace in Prince William County for decades and police want to keep it that way.
After a reported increase in coyote sightings, county police are offering tips on how humans can do their part to avoid unpleasant encounters with the wild animals, which are known to eat small dogs, cats and other small pets.
A small dog in eastern Prince William County was recently killed by an animal thought to be a coyote, though authorities haven't positively identified the animal, Prince William Police spokesman Jonathan Perok said.
Coyotes prefer to hunt at night, so don't leave pets outdoors, he said. Keep coyotes off your property by not leaving pet food out overnight.
Authorities say coyotes only approach people under unusual circumstances. If an animal does approach, scare it off by making a lot of noise, such as clapping or yelling.
Encounters can also be avoided by staying on designated park trails and keeping dogs on leashed in public parks.
If an coyote is observed acting sick or aggressive, call the animal control through the non-emergency dispatch number at 703-792-6500.
Have you spotted a coyote around these parts? Tell us about it in the comments.