A Quispamsis woman is warning area residents about a growing number of coyotes in the community after her recent close encounter with one.

Jacqui Whiting was walking her three dogs along the town's trails this week when they suddenly started growling.

That's when she noticed a coyote slip out from behind some bushes.

"I could see the hackles were up, it was alert, it was growling, it was not a nice animal," said Whiting.

'I yelled and clapped and expected it to take off, and instead it started coming for us.' —Jacqui Whiting, Quispamsis resident

"I yelled and clapped and expected it to take off, and instead it started coming for us."

The coyote followed them until they reached a road, she said.

"I'm not saying it's going to hurt a child, but it's certainly going to kill someone's cat or their dog, so it's kinda scary."

Whiting's encounter is one of many coyote sightings in Quispamsis during the past few months.

Several residents say the animals are moving closer to town and have become bolder around people.

Be cautious

The Department of Natural Resources confirms coyote numbers are up across province, at about 12,000.

A boom in rabbits — their favourite prey — is the main cause for the upswing, along with an increasing number of deer, said wildlife biologist Joe Kennedy.

He said coyotes almost never attack humans but residents should be cautious if they see one.

"Stand your ground, yell at it, try to intimidate it because coyote attacks on humans [are] so rare, we know they can be intimidated easily."

Kennedy expects the coyote numbers to fall again in the spring as part of the natural cycle.

In the meantime, he advises area residents keep small pets indoors and reduce possible food sources, such as garbage and compost.

Last October, a 19-year-old folk singer from Toronto was attacked and killed by two coyotes while hiking alone on the Skyline Trail in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, not far from Cheticamp.

Taylor Josephine Stephanie Luciow, who went by the stage name Taylor Mitchell, was first taken to the hospital in Cheticamp before being flown to Halifax, where she later died.