(WUSA9) -- The Prince William County Police Department's Animal Control Bureau is asking people to be careful if a coyote approaches them.
According to authorities, coyotes have been living in Prince William County for years and usually are no threat to humans unless the coyotes are sick, injured, or threatened.
Authorities are telling people that if a coyote does approach them, which is unusual, they can make a lot of noise either by clapping, yelling or stomping their feet. Police say this usually scares off the coyotes.
Coyotes will eat cats, small dogs, and other small pets. Authorities say pet owners should not leave their pets outdoors unattended, especially at night. Dog owners are also encouraged to keep their dogs on a leash at all times when they are off of the owner's property.
Authorities are also asking people to stay on established trails in park areas to avoid areas where there may be dens.
If a coyote appears to be sick, injured or acting aggressively, call Animal Control at 703-792-6500.
For more information, authorities encourage you to visit: http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/problems/coyotes.