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Coyote reportedly spotted in Prince William County

Saturday - 7/26/2014, 8:00am  ET

Coyotes appear to be more prominent locally

WTOP's Kathy Stewart reports

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Sophie Ho, special to wtop.com

WASHINGTON -- A coyote was reportedly seen by a resident in the Buckhall area of Prince William County, according to a release from the Prince William Health District.

Coyotes can be found throughout Virginia and according to the state's Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, prefer semi-forested and open lands.

The animal can be also be found in Maryland, with the highest density of coyotes in western Maryland. Though they are primarily active at night, coyotes can be seen during the day while hunting or making dens.

They can carry rabies, although this is rare. Coyotes are about the size and weight of a medium-sized dog.

"Our concern is humans coming into contact with coyotes and developing rabies," said Dr. Alison Ansher, health director for Prince William County.

"Vaccinate your dogs and cats protect them against rabies ... (Coyotes) are territorial and so if they're hungry, small cats and dogs that are not protected, they certainly can kill."

Citizens are reminded to not feed the wildlife in the area, including the coyotes. Though coyotes have an instinctive fear of humans, they may attack unaccompanied pets or other small animals.

The Prince William Health District recommended that citizens close openings to buildings, cut back busy areas in yards and limit food sources -- like trash outside, pet food or bird feeders.

Those who see coyotes can contact the Prince William County Animal Control Division at 703-792-6500.

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