With reports that the coyote population seems to be unusually high this year, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission reminds owners of small pets to be vigilant in protecting pets from possible coyote encounters.

If you come in contact with coyotes, the Game and Parks Commission said Wednesday, haze coyotes away whenever possible to keep them wild and afraid of humans.

Most interactions that people have with coyotes are interactions between coyotes and dogs due to the territorial nature of both animals.

Coyote attacks on people are very rare; coyotes typically avoid people, Game and Parks spokesman Jerry Kane said.

The following steps will help keep pets safe:

  • Do not approach or feed a coyote or other wildlife.
  • Do not leave pet food outside.
  • Keep pets on a leash, and do not let them roam at night.
  • Keep an eye on your pet and keep it close, even if just letting it out into the yard for a few minutes.
  • In the rare instance that a coyote acts aggressively, get inside a building or vehicle, if possible.
  • If a coyote attacks, lift pets or children and fight back with sticks, rocks, or any other object while you back away.

Coyotes are common throughout Nebraska, including some areas of cities where there is habitat, such as creek bottoms, green space with tall grass, and agricultural fields, Kane said.

People who see a coyote showing no fear of humans or have had a pet attacked by a coyote should call Game and Parks at 402-471-0641.

For more information, visit nebraskawildliferehab.org/wildlife-help/nuisance-wildlife-issues/coyotes.html.