Parents, dog owners wonder what to do if you see a coyote

What should you do if you see a coyote?

Sightings have spiked this winter in the Chicago area, and a recent attack on a six-year-old boy has some parents and pet owners on edge.

But expert handlers said that coyotes are typically not dangerous and prefer not to interact with humans.

Coyotes naturally are very skittish, very timid," said Rainah Runty of Big Wolf Run Ranch. "These guys are really being pushed out of their territories. They really don't have many places to go."

The attack in January on the six-year-old boy in Lincoln Park was done by a coyote that had been shot in the chest with a BB gun.

Now he's disabled so he was not in his normal mind," said John Basile of Big Run Wolf Ranch.

"When that kid went up to that coyote, It probably bit out of fear. It probably thought it was going to get eaten or harmed worse than it already was," Runty said.

If you do see a coyote, experts said you should give it space and don't try to corner it. Loud noises will scare them away. Parents should watch children in wildlife areas and dog owners should use leashes.

"Let's say you're walking down the street and maybe a couple coyotes come and surround you and you have a little dog. You pick the dog up, stomp your feet and charge them. They will definitely run away," Basile said.

Caretakers at Big Run Wolf Ranch said that coyotes are beneficial in urban areas, since they keep rodent populations in check.