Residents of Sterling Heights are airing out their concerns after reports of coyote sightings are starting to pile up.

Authorities have been answering phone calls left and right about coyote complaints, but they have to face the fact that these animals are part of their society.

“Coyotes are here, whether we like it or not,” said one source as it echoed a statement coming from officials of the Sterling Heights Nature Center.

A coyote, also known as the American jackal
In this photo, a coyote walks in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming Aug. 11, 2011. Reuters / Lucy Nicholson

Homeowners gathered at the Center and raised their fears after a coyote attacked a dog. For them, the incident breached not only the safety of their pets, but also theirs.

Steve McKay recalled when he saw his neighbor and her pet golden retriever went out for a walk one evening when, all of a sudden, they came face to face with a coyote.

McKay pointed that the dog stepped between its owner and the coyote – a clear sign that the golden retriever knew that they were both in trouble.

“The coyote got the dog’s head in its mouth and it bit it,” said McKay to WWJ News Radio. He added that the coyote followed the woman and her pet while they retreated to her house.

“It scared her really bad,” he added.

The dog needed stitches to close the wound left the coyote.

Chris Dib, who attended the meeting together with his family, said that he saw several coyotes running around the overflow areas.

Dib brought his family in order for his kids to know what coyotes look like and how they behave. By this, they will know to stay away and keep their distance if they saw these animals in the future.

“They’re not only in Sterling Heights, but they’re all in pretty much every single county, in the state of Michigan,” pointed Sterling Heights Police Chief Dale Dwojakowski.

While the meeting focused on the recent attack, an underlying message reflected that coyote attacks prove to be rare. Still, local officials offered several tips so that homeowners will elude these canines.

These include “eliminating outside food sources” such as garbage and bird feeders and remove wood and brush piles that could attract rodents – a favorite of coyotes.

As far as pets are concerned, Dwojakowski suggested to keep them indoors.

“To leave a small dog outside alone, unsupervised – you’re asking for trouble,” he said.

Sterling Heights law prohibits gun owners from using their firearms if they are within the city limit. They can’t also hunt coyotes. If they are attacked, however, Dwojakowski said that they can defend themselves.

They further advised residents to make a lot of noise if they encounter a coyote. They are naturally afraid of people and will retreat if they are frightened. But just like any other wild animal, coyotes can be unpredictable and can attack if they are provoked.