It isn't your imagination - you have been hearing the howl of coyotes more than usual lately and it's because they're on the prowl for some loving.

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Coyote mating season is officially in full effect in the state of New York which you might think means nothing to you, but if you're a pet owner, particularly of small pets, you need to keep a vigilant eye on your pets.

Do not fall for the assumption that coyotes only come out during nighttime hours. Although coyotes generally move around more after sunset and during the night hours, they can also be seen during the day.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation points out that when hungry, "coyotes are opportunistic omnivores, meaning a coyote's diet depends on what is easy to find, scavenge, or catch and kill."  You certainly don't want that to be your family pet or farm animal.

According to the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, although coyotes mate from January through March, February is the month when things really heat up and in about two months is when their young will be born - an average of 2-10 per liter.

Coyotes have been in New York since at least 1920 and the eastern coyote, which is what we have in New York is substantially larger than the southwestern coyote. The estimated number of coyotes in New York is upward of 30,000.

The best way that you can keep your small pets safe, according to the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry is to "keep all garbage or other foods safely secured 2) keep pets and their food indoors or safely secured if outdoors."

If you're worried about coyotes in your neighborhood or on your property, you can "harass any coyotes which come into your neighborhood by making loud noises – shouting, starter pistol, alarm devices, etc." If the sound and threats don't scare the coyotes off, the college notes that "lethal removal may be necessary."

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LOOK: Here are the pets banned in each state

Because the regulation of exotic animals is left to states, some organizations, including The Humane Society of the United States, advocate for federal, standardized legislation that would ban owning large cats, bears, primates, and large poisonous snakes as pets.

Read on to see which pets are banned in your home state, as well as across the nation.

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