DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – More sightings of coyotes wandering the Miami Valley is prompting law enforcement and wildlife experts to issue guidance about what to do if you encounter one.

James DeLong from Enon said he’s never seen a coyote on his property, but he’s heard them. He said he never felt worried about his dog, Jack.

“It was always in the back of our mind, but having never sighted one myself, we really felt like Jack would be okay,” DeLong said.

One week ago, DeLong let Jake out like he does every morning.

“Typically, he’ll come back in about ten or 15 minutes because we always have a little doggy treat for him,” DeLong said.

This time, though, Jack, a 14-year-old chihuahua terrier mix, did not return. Instead, DeLong found Jack in the woods, and it appeared he died from a coyote attack.

“We were devastated, especially the first couple of days,” DeLong said.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Officer Trent Weaver said coyotes are rarely a threat to humans, but sometimes small dogs and cats aren’t as lucky.

“Anything of the size of a beagle and smaller as kind of within their prey, size and range,” Weaver said. “So that would be one, if I owned one, then I’d be more concerned.”

Weaver said it’s much more of a concern this time of year because coyotes are more active for mating season and hunting for food.

“In the spring, summer, fall, food’s more plentiful, so they’ll spend as much time hunting,” Weaver said. “And then with breeding season, they’re more vocal this time of year and they’re just putting on more miles, they’re working for mates.”

An increase in coyote sightings even prompted the Kettering Police Department to issue guidance on Facebook.

“We have been monitoring activity, working toward resolution and educating as many residents as possible,” the statement read, in part.

The coyote activity is also keeping Michael Enright, the owner of Enright Wildlife and Habitat Solutions busy.

“I get coyote calls just about every day,” Enright said.

Enright said if a coyote is on your property, the best thing to do is leave it alone and keep your distance.

“If they’re not a threat to human health or safety, you want to leave them there because removing them could make new coyotes move into the area and those new coyotes could be an issue,” Enright said.

Enright said the best way to keep them out of your backyard is by eliminating any food that would attract them.

“You want to make sure you keep your pet food and trash secured because coyotes are opportunists, they love free food,” Enright said.

As for DeLong, he said his family will likely get another dog, and what happened to Jack will be a lesson for himself and other pet owners.

“What we’re going to do is put up a little fenced in area, and that way when we let him out in the morning, when it’s dark and we don’t really see him, we want to make sure he’s protected,” DeLong said.

Coyotes are not protected by ODNR or the State of Ohio, but many municipalities, including the City of Kettering, have ordinances that prohibit you from removing, trapping or killing coyotes.

If you do come across a coyote causing danger or threatening a human, call your local police department.