NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Sightings of a wild coyote in Westchester have local residents brushing up on how to live with the return of a natural predator around their homes.

Just four doors down Emerson Avenue from the auto dealerships on busy Main Street in New Rochelle sits a beautifully landscaped backyard equipped for a growing family that was not prepared for a surprise visit this week from a large coyote.

“Pretty frightening! I told my kids don’t walk outside by themselves unless I’m with them,” said New Rochelle resident Michelle Pappas.

It was the latest coyote sighting in New York’s eighth largest city. Police say some neighborhoods have learned to coexist with the critters.

“Coyotes have been here for many years,” said New Rochelle Deputy Police commissioner Robert Gazzola. “They roam searching for food. Many neighborhoods are used to seeing them. When they show up in neighborhoods that haven’t seen them before people get understandably concerned.”

Unless the coyote appears rabid or ill, or is acting aggressively, police don’t take any action, said Gazzola.

“People are normally scared when they see a coyote, they think ‘wild animal,'” he said. “They think it’s out of its area, shouldn’t be around.”

Several daytime coyote sightings were seen in Westchester County in July, a behavior change that alarmed some in the neighborhood.

While attacks on humans are rare, coyotes are known to attack and kill cats and small dogs. As a result, experts advise against leaving pet food outside since doing so could draw your cat or dog closer to a hungry coyote hunting for its next meal.

The coyotes also seem to like pet food, so it could keep them coming back to your property. Experts also say coyotes are attracted to garbage, so don’t leave any outside for too long.

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