It was about six years ago that we took a family vacation out to see relatives in New Mexico. Most of my mom's side of the family lives in southwestern and western New Mexico, close to the Arizona border.

UNWELCOME PREDATORS

I have an aunt and uncle who live just outside a tiny village called Reserve. They live in the middle of nowhere. It's beautiful but it's very remote. But it's not like they're without company; it's just that the kind of company they sometimes get is most unwelcome. I'm talking about wolves. As beautiful as they are, they are enormous menaces since they kill small livestock and, in particular, hens and chickens. And my aunt and uncle have a lot of unusual hens and chickens. But they've lost some over the years to wolves.

COYOTES -- OUR VERSION OF THE WOLF PROBLEM

I think about their dilemma when I'm outside at night sometimes and hear OUR version of that particular issue--coyotes.

I think it was in December when we had that great big and bright super moon, and when I was outside that night--we live out in the county--the coyotes were howling their heads off. And there were probably some dogs in the mix as well, triggered by their distant canine relatives.

COYOTE MATING SEASON

Well, fast forward to January, and coyote mating season has arrived in Kentucky. And you know that means, don't you? These pesky predators will be wandering more than usual. If it was simply deer we were discussing, I'd just warn you about driving cautiously. Certainly, that applies here, but coyotes have been known to roam more and more into the suburbs. Over the last few years, we've seen more and more reports of coyotes well within city limits. And with many suburbs situated OUTSIDE those limits, it'll pay to be vigilant with regards to coyotes.

STEPS TO TAKE TO KEEP COYOTES AWAY

Be aware that any food you leave out could very well attract the kinds of animals that will lure coyotes onto your property. Also, if you feed your dog outside and there's any leftover food in the bowl, that could provide a tasty snack for a wandering coyote.

Mating season for coyotes lasts through February, so take the necessary precautions.

As for where we live, we have multiple neighborhood cats that have become friends with everyone. You can be sure I'll be doing headcounts in the weeks to come.

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

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