OLATHE, Kan. - Johnson County residents are hearing -- and seeing -- more coyotes this year.
The Kansas Department of Wildlife said Johnson County residents are reporting the uptick in coyote calls, and neighbors near 151st and Interstate 35 in Olathe have concerns about the influx of animals.
Jennifer Miller is keeping a close eye on her dogs after a close encounter with a coyote.
Miller said her dog, Sampson, was four feet from the animal. And that is not the first time the Olathe family has seen a coyote in the neighborhood. A neighbor says she hears them at night.
"It's been enough for us to honestly be praying over our house and our dogs," Theresa Troll said.
Troll makes sure to get her little schnauzers inside at sundown.
"Yes, they're good guard dogs, but they're no match for a coyote," she said as the little dogs yapped in her backyard.
Kansas Department of Wildlife Biologist Andy Friesen said coyotes do not typically eat dogs as a snack, but they will kill dogs they see as a threat.
Friesen said he's getting more calls for coyotes and foxes in Johnson County this spring. He said the coyotes in Kansas are generally scared of humans, but packs near cities generally do not have that same fear because they are not hunted creatures.
"It's getting harder to scare them off," Miller said. "We would just come out and holler and say ‘Hey, get away!' Now, they kind of linger."
"I kicked a soccer ball at the coyote that was standing here because he didn't run off when I got to the deck."
It's way too close to home for the mom of two.
"If they're not scared of me coming out on the deck and walking down in the yard, they're not going to be scared when my dogs and kids are out here," Miller said.
Both the city manager and Olathe animal control said it is not equipped to handle or trap coyotes.
According to the state Department of Wildlife, it is the responsibility of the home owner to handle and encourage removal of a coyote, but Friesen said that is difficult because of different city ordinances.
Friesen said the state department does not go out to trap animals such as coyotes.
He said residents have three options: Co-exist, harass or trap the animals themselves.
The department does have traps for people to borrow to trap raccoons, skunks and other critters causing problems near their homes. However, Friesen said coyotes are not easy to trap and most times require traps that are not allowed within city limits.
He says the best thing for homeowners to do is make sure they're not leaving pet food or trash outside their homes overnight. Also, if you live in a neighborhood where you pay home association dues, ask them to use some of the money to hire professional trappers.
Most importantly, he said, neighbors need to work collectively to let scare the coyotes by letting them know they're not wanted -- for example, shooting a water gun, banging loud metal together or throwing something at them.