KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Several East Tennessee residents have reported seeing coyotes around their homes and near residential areas. Wildlife officials say it’s normal.

“Coyotes are very common across Tennessee and across the entire nation,” said TWRA spokesperson Matt Cameron. “They are a very adaptable species and they’ve learned to thrive in urban environments such as New York, LA and even Chicago have coyotes living in them.”

They’re seen out year round, but you may see a few more than usual in the spring and fall months.

“February, early March is going to be their breeding season so they’re going to be on the move then,” Cameron said. “And this time of year the young are dispersing from their family unit so the young ones are going to be out on the move trying to establish their own territory and trying to feed themselves as the winter months come in.”

With that said, they can be a threat to small pets. The TWRA recommends securing your pets at night if you don’t have a fenced in yard and live in an area with high coyote activity.

“Dogs smaller than about forty pounds could fall prey to a coyote so if you have little dogs you’re going to want to keep an eye on them. If you have a fenced in yard you’re probably going to be OK, but coyotes can dig under and climb over fences so be aware of that,” Cameron said.

The good news is they’re not after humans. Most times they’re just looking for their next meal.

“Not saying they can’t or wont attack you it’s just an extremely unusual occurrence,” Cameron said. “I would be aware especially if you have small children. You just want to be aware that a coyotes can be potentially dangerous to you just like any other wild animal can.”

TWRA officials say there aren’t many protections for coyotes in the state of Tennessee, so it is legal to hunt them year-round.

If you need professional help removing a coyote from your yard, you can find trappers in your area using this link.