Coyote sightings have become more and more common in urban areas, including Newcomerstown.

Newcomerstown resident Charlie Rine, who lives beside Cy Young Park, said he only saw them once.

"They tore a black cat apart," Rine said regarding two coyotes fighting in the park. He watched from his garage, which was approximately 25 yards away, from the spot that they killed the domestic cat.

"People hear them around this area a lot," Rine said. "I'm concerned for the children here, especially at the park."

Coyotes live in almost every metro area across North America, and their numbers are likely increasing, according to wildlife experts. Coyotes have even been spotted in downtown Chicago.

Because of their elusive nature, the vast majority of coyotes will never be seen by people. However, they are becoming more and more habituated in a community, it may display bolder behavior and be less fearful of humans. Animals that do not fear humans may exhibit aggression toward people and attack or show predatory behavior toward dogs.

Newcomerstown Mayor Jim Friel said Newcomerstown wildlife specialist Paul Celuch has been tracking the coyotes and looking for signs they have been around.

"We couldn't find anything that they are there (in Cy Young Park) on a regular basis," Mayor Friel said. "They may not be back right away."

He said they travel a lot and if the mother coyote has made a den in the park, then they will return.

Mayor Friel, who lives on Keiser Hill Road in the village, said, "I've dealt with coyotes at my place. I've seen two of them before this started."

He said there have also been reports of coyotes on Canal Road (inside the corporation limit), Scott Addition and the Newcomerstown Industrial Park.

"We're going to stay on it," Mayor Friel said. "The residents' safety is our main concern. We want to scare them off so they don't come back."

Experts say coyotes may kill cats for food or to remove a competing predator, and less commonly attack small dogs unaccompanied by an owner. In some cases, a small dog may be attacked while on a leash or in a yard. In extreme cases, people may be attacked, most commonly small children.

If you encounter a coyote, what should you do?:

People should go outside their home and make noise or some similar effort to scare the coyote away and show dominance. This can be done by standing outside near the door without getting too close to the animal.

Some coyotes may follow people for a variety of reasons, including simple curiosity, but the worst action someone could take in this situation is to run away. Instead, maintain eye contact with the animal and slowly back away.

Pick up an object to throw at the coyote. If the coyote comes too close, swing a stick at it. This may seem cruel, but the goal is to scare the animal off, not injure or corner a coyote that may be attempting to escape.

The most common way a coyote becomes habituated is through people feeding it -- either intentionally or accidentally. When this happens, coyotes begin to associate humans with food. Human food outside -- either in a garbage bin or on a dirty barbecue grill -- can attract coyotes, as can pet food left outside overnight. Bird or squirrel feeders can draw the attention of coyotes.

It is recommended to not leave food out or pet food out, especially if your property backs up against a park, creek or other area that wildlife may use.