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Increase in reports of coyote sightings in urban areas is normal this time of year

Coyote (Photo courtesy Wisconsin DNR/Herbert Lange)

As the days become shorter, more and more people are reporting coyote sightings in rural and urban areas alike.

Jeanne Zabout walks her dog Lily near the Southwest Portland intersection where someone reported seeing a coyote October 30.

She said she's had her own close-up coyote encounters recently.

"They're very brave. They walk right up - we live in the end of Hamilton - and they'll just walk right up on our deck and walk across and they'll sit and have a nap in the back yard. So, very brave," said Zabout.

An interactive map from the Portland Urban Coyote Project shows just how many sightings there are every year across the Portland metro area, even in downtown Portland.

Experts say the coyote population is pretty consistent across the metro area, but with nightfall coming earlier, people are seeing coyotes more often as those animals search for food at dusk and at night.

Bob Sallinger with the Audubon Society of Portland said young coyotes are just starting to head out on their own at this time of year, making them more likely to cross paths with humans.

"It may be that young from last summer are dispersing out and starting to roam about. It may be that there's less foliage on the trees and they're more visible for that reason. There could be a variety of factors, but we tend to get a lot of reports in the fall," he said.

While coyotes aren't a serious threat to humans, they can target small dogs and cats.

Experts say that any food left out for animals or pets can make coyotes see your home as a food source, which could put your small pets at risk of attack.

The Audubon Society and Portland State University have set up a site that tracks coyote sightings here.

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