Residents of St. Andrews, N.B., are being advised to carry whistles in case they encounter an aggressive coyote as they walk around the coastal community.

Just over a week ago in St Andrews, which is located in southwest New Brunswick, a coyote bared its teeth at a 13-year-old girl coming home from school.

'It's the natural food chain. The coyotes will chase the deer, eat the deer, and if the deer are coming into town they'll follow them right into town.'— John Craig, St.Andrews mayor

That has prompted local officials to warn people in the town to be on the watch for the animals and to take precautions.

Tim Henderson, the town's chief administrative officer, said making a loud noise will usually scare coyotes. Henderson said even inexpensive whistles should frighten off a coyote.

He said more drastic action isn't really an option.

"Wildlife officers really couldn't trap them because we have a lot of people who walk their dogs, and cats roam freely. So no one wants to see their animal get caught in a trap," Henderson said.

"So the other real choice would be to shoot them and really you're in a subdivision and you don't want to take that sort of action unless it's really necessary."

St. Andrews Mayor John Craig already has a whistle. "It's always good to be safe," he said.

Craig said he is not surprised by the coyote sightings this year because the town's subdivisions are expanding into wooded areas.

Another contributing factor to the coyotes moving closer, Craig said, is that a herd of 30 to 40 deer settled in St. Andrews for the winter.

"It's the natural food chain. The coyotes will chase the deer, eat the deer, and if the deer are coming into town they'll follow them right into town," he said.

Craig said he expects once the deer leave in the spring, the coyotes will move on as well.

Other coyote sightings

There have been several coyote sightings in New Brunswick in recent months.

In February, Marie Simon of Saint-Charles, near Richibucto, was attacked by a coyote when she was taking her dog outside. Simon was able to beat back the coyote and escaped with only a few cuts.

Coyotes have been spotted in the Miramichi and Quispamsis areas.

The breeding season for coyotes in New Brunswick is February and March, and Department of Natural Resources personnel have advised that it is not unusual for young animals to be pushed out of established territories and into fringe areas at this time of year.

When that happens, the juveniles are looking for any quick meal and that is when they appear in urban areas.