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DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado Parks and Wildlife is reminding pet owners that coyotes are entering their mating season, which can increase aggression towards pets and even in rare cases, people.

“Coyotes are in breeding season from mid-January to mid-March,” Joey Livingston, with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said.

He said in early March after coyotes have their pups, they can be more aggressive, as they are protecting their dens from perceived threats.

“In rare cases, they can turn that aggression towards people, so you want to make sure you remain vigilant,” Livingston said.

The animals most at risk are smaller dogs and cats. It’s important to keep them on a leash during walks and to be with them when they are outside in the yard.

“You got to remember these are wild animals. Your pet is domesticated, these are wild animals. They are tough and hardy,” Livingston said.

Large dogs can also be vulnerable to coyotes.

“Coyotes fight for their lives on a daily basis. They are known to pack up on larger dogs,” Livingston said.

The majority of the time, he said, coyotes will run away from humans. But in cases that they don’t, the best thing to do is make yourself large, make noises and throw rocks or other items at the coyote.

“The biggest risk is small pets who are off-leash or off by themselves,” Livingston said.

Bruce Ryman, his wife and their dog have lived in Lone Tree for over 20 years and know they share their neighborhood with coyotes.

“There are always coyotes around here. You have to use common sense. Don’t walk at night, and if you do, coyotes will be out there,” Ryman said.

Ryman told FOX31 they’ve had their own close call with a coyote stalking them while they walked with a small dog.

“He was hungry. We had a small dog. The coyote followed us for a while, so we picked up the dog. It was obvious the coyote was looking for a meal there,” Ryman said.

So keep a leash — and an eye — on your pets this winter into spring.