BATON ROUGE (WBRZ)  - After a string of missing pet cats, Linda Caston believes the culprit turned up dead in her backyard: a coyote she Wednesday morning.

"I saw an animal lying back here and I thought it was a cat, so I was going to shoo him away. As I got closer I said well that's bigger than a cat, and I realized there was some flies around it and it was dead. As I walked by it I realized that's the coyote," she said.

East Baton Rouge Animal Shelter Director Hilton Cole says coyotes in the parish aren't going anywhere, so people will just have to be aware.

"They aren't quite natural wildlife to this part of the world, but they are there now and they're not going anywhere. I believe they're here to stay for quite a long time, if not forever," he said.

Cole says the coyote population has grown in Baton Rouge, especially after the clearing of many wooded areas, and will prey on anything they can catch.

Cole suggests keeping small pets indoors or behind tall fences, because coyotes can leap over small chain-link fences. Also, you should pick up cat or dog food from your backyard so you won't attract stray animals that coyotes can feed on. Cole says there haven't been any attacks on humans yet.

Image: WBRZ