OLD SAYBROOK - Police are warning residents to be on the watch for coyotes after an increased number of reports of encounters with the animals.
Officials are working with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to make sure residents know how to avoid problems.
"Coyotes are obviously somewhat selective, they may approach a smaller dog more than a large dog, any dog could be approached," said Chris Vann, a DEEP biologist. "Coyotes are predators, they will consider your dog or small cat no different than a woodchuck, a rabbit, or a squirrel."
DEEP is warning residents to never feed the coyotes, even unintentionally, by making sure to clean up below bird feeders and securing garbage cans.
Police advise keeping dogs on a leash at all times, and don't allow cats to roam free. If approached by a coyote, leave, but do not run or turn your back. Coyotes are territorial and may be aggressive to protect what they think is their ground. Make noise and wave your arms if approached.
Authorities also advise if you observe a coyote, or any other wild animal, that appears to be injured or ill or is behaving aggressively towards people to call 911.
Homeowners are advised to close off crawlspaces and porches that animals may hide in.
Teach children to recognize coyotes and leave the area or climb up a tree or deck if they see one.
If you see a coyote, call 911, your local animal control division, or the DEEP Wildlife Division at (860) 424-3011.