Coyote sightings have increased in communities around Saint John and other urban areas this year, according to a Nature Conservancy of Canada spokesperson.
Andrew Holland said coyotes have been leaving forested areas in search of food in subdivisions, where new homes and streets have been built.
"These animals are excellent scavengers with a strong nose and they're looking for food," he said.
They're looking for garbage and compost along these properties.
"That's where they become a bit problematic for homeowners," Holland said.
Coyotes are generally more active in winter. But come spring, they're in search of food and dens to rear their pups.
"People are hearing them," he said. "People are seeing them."
Becoming more aware of wildlife
Residents should keep pets like cats and dogs inside. They should also lock up their garbage.
Holland said people have been sending images of coyotes on social media and contacting the organization about a possible increase.
Dan Kraus, the Nature Conservancy of Canada's senior conservation biologist, said the animals are being spotted because people are spending more time at home.
"During busier times, when we are constantly on the move, many of us tend to be hurrying to get somewhere and fail to notice that wildlife are around us all along," Kraus said in a statement.
People should also avoid feeding the animals.
"Unfortunately, coyotes that are injured, starving, young or have been fed by people can come into conflict with people," Kraus said.
People shouldn't be alarmed by the animals, but they should remain cautious — especially if they're protecting nearby pups or a nearby food source.
"They're not keen on people," he said. "They're shy."
He encouraged people to carry a whistle and make loud noises to "sound bigger."
"Never run away of a coyote but make sure to make loud noises to scare it off," he said.
Holland said coyotes are fast runners, who can sprint up to 70 kilometres an hour. He said people should back up in the direction they were coming from.
"I'm not going to win that foot race and a lot of people won't."
If the coyote doesn't move, he recommends throwing rocks and sticks in its direction so the animal will leave. But it's important to keep a safe distance from the animals.