GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — As the Triad experiences an early rise in temperatures, locals have already begun seeing an uptick in coyote sightings.

These sightings have raised concerns over safety for humans and their pets, especially those visiting parks.

Falyn Owens, a wildlife biologist with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, said coyotes are territorial animals that use communication to mark their boundaries.

“When they mark their territory, they’re essentially saying, ‘This is the edge of my area. If you’re not my mate then I want you to stay out,'” Owens said.

By communicating in this way, coyotes are able to avoid conflicts with other coyotes and establish their own space in the ecosystem.

While coyotes are a natural part of the ecosystem, they can pose a danger to pets visiting parks with their owners.

“Coyotes can be a problem for dogs, especially very small breed dogs. If they’re left completely unsupervised, they can look a lot like a coyote’s natural prey, which they’ll eat things like rabbits,” Owens said.

Owens recommended that dog owners keep their pets on a leash or inside a dog-proof fence to prevent any conflict with coyotes. She also advised people to harass or scare off coyotes if they start hanging around in their neighborhoods or parks.

“Harass them and scare them off…make loud noises and maybe pretend to chase after them. They tend to respond very well to that by recognizing that we are much bigger than they are, and their best way to defend themselves is to run in the opposite direction,” Owens said.

While coyotes are generally afraid of humans and try to avoid contact, there’s still a risk of them attacking if they feel threatened.

“Certainly, if you get bitten by a coyote or any other wild animal, your first step is going to be contacting your doctor and your health department,” Owens said.

The Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department recommends that visitors exercise caution when encountering any wild animal and clean up their trash when visiting parks to prevent coyotes from being attracted to it.