There's no shortage of coyotes in East Texas, and some pet owners are worried about their furry friends.

"We have a healthy population of coyotes here," said Shawn Markmann, Director of Animal Services for Tyler Animal Control.

He said it is mating season for these critters, and it can be easy to mistake them for another animal.

"We have some really healthy ones that look like big dogs," he said.

There's some good news for worried pet owners. Your pets aren't the first thing they are after.

"Coyotes are not going to go after an animal that they have to fight for food," Markmann said.

Instead, they will go for easy targets like berries, rabbits, mice and roadkill.

Markmann said pet owners are still fearful.

While you might see coyotes around your neighborhood, chances are they won't bother you.

He said the City of Tyler doesn't set traps for coyotes -- especially this time of year -- because they're not always reliable.

"When the weather is really cold, we don't like to set out traps for anything, because you never know what can go in it, and we don't want an animal to get trapped in it overnight," he said.

If you're still uneasy about your pets, Markmann said there's a few things you can do to keep the coyotes away.

"If you're going to feed your animals outside, make sure they eat their food, and then clean it up," he said. "Don't feed animals on the back porch, or in the garage or in the driveway."

If you're giving them a safe place for food, they'll show up.

Finally, if you decide to go for that nighttime stroll, make sure to keep your pup on a leash and always in sight.