PALM DESERT, Calif. - Valley residents are concerned following a number of coyote sightings around desert neighborhoods.
Now, coyotes live in the desert and its not uncommon to see them roaming around, but people say they're seeing them wander further into residential areas in search of food.
In the past, there have been reports of coyotes attacking and killing small pets. In fact, a coyote even attacked a Palm Desert woman walking her dog during the early morning hours 2 years ago.
Experts say although there haven't been any attacks recently, the sightings are a good reminder to be on the look-out.
Shay New, a Palm Desert resident, lost a pet attacked by a coyote. She says one doesn't usually think coyotes will roam into their neighborhoods.
"You just don't expect to see coyotes in this area and yet I lost my cat," New said, "You know I just kind of found her with trails and trails just kind of hanging out," she added.
Experts say coyote sightings are most common around this time of year. They'll go through neighborhoods looking for food making your pet a target.
Frank Corvino, Deputy Director for the Riverside County Department of Animal Services, says coyotes are opportunistic eaters so they're going to look for the easy meal.
"They're having puppies so they're out forging for food to bring back to the pups. The drought hasn't helped and I think people will be seeing more and more of them going through neighborhoods and such like that," Corvino said.
Coyotes prey on small animals, even approach small children if you're not careful, which is why he says the sightings show people need to be extra vigilant during this time. Don't leave pets and small children unattended, and avoid walking pets at dusk or dawn when coyotes are most active. But, if you do come face to face with one, you'll want to be ready.
"Make a lot of noise, make a lot of movement with your arms your legs. Blow a whistle if you have one and for some reason if you look like you're going to be attacked you should have a stick or something," Corvino said.
Also, responsibly dispose of trash and don't leave any food out that could lure the animal.
"Don't forget we live in the desert, this is their habitat so we really have to be wary of that," Corvino added.