CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Coyotes prowl around communities in Central Virginia all year, but during the species’ mating season from January through March, they might be more visible than normal.

Mike Fies with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources noted coyotes’ increasing presence in more residential environments.

“They are becoming increasingly abundant in urban areas,” Fies said.

Therefore, people should be familiar with potential behavioral patterns that parallel the upcoming peak in mating season.

“The males might be a little more territorial in the breeding season,” Fies said.

Despite more of these large canines set to emerge from the woodworks, most humans don’t actually interact with them. Coyotes generally lurk about in the shadows of the night — refraining from making human contact.

“[People] shouldn’t necessarily be afraid of the coyotes unless the coyotes are bold or acting aggressive towards people,” Fies clarified.

Aggression can go hand-in-hand with the male coyotes’ increased territorialism. To avoid any undesirable encounters with these creatures, people should refrain from leaving any sort of food outside or near their homes. This includes, but isn’t limited to, trash, scraps, pet food, fallen fruit and even bird feeders.

“They’re also a little more challenged for food resources in the late winter,” Fies said. “So they might be more apt to attack a small dog or cat when food resources are low.”

However, coyotes are most aggressive after the pups are born, rather than during the mating season. This boom, also called “pupping season,” begins around March or April. It is almost impossible to tame a wild coyote once it is aggravated.

“Once a coyote does become aggressive, you can’t really turn that behavior back,” Fies said. “So that animal needs to be removed from the landscape.”

For more information about coyotes in Virginia, visit the Department of Wildlife Resources online.