Coyote sightings in Myrtle Beach on the rise

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - There have been sightings of coyotes in the Grand Strand before, but now homeowners in the Myrtle Beach Pine Lakes neighborhood say it's getting worse. Pets in the area have gone missing, and many think coyotes are the culprits.

Jo Nell Koch has been putting up signs for a lost kitten she picked up next to the road. After several animals have gone missing in her neighborhood, she thought it was necessary to keep the cat so it had a safe place until she found the owners. Jo Nell and her husband Tim Koch are pet lovers, and they have recently learned themselves the consequences of letting one of their pets out at night.

"It was him. It was a lot of fur, and it was only his fur. So we knew he got dominated by something," Tim Koch described.

"Something like a coyote killing them," said Jo Nell Koch, right in their own backyard. After living in the Pine Lakes neighborhood for 10 years, Tim says at first he was surprised.

"After doing some research, I saw on the internet that a lot of people complained about this," he said.

Koch said people complained about coyotes not just in Surfside Beach or Carolina Forest where there are known sightings, but also right in Myrtle Beach.

"They want food any way they can find it," said Jo Nell. "And I think they're getting more and more brave."

The growing bravery is leading to more sightings and pet disappearances.

"They've seen them on bypass, they've seen them on Grissom Parkway, they hang out behind the Presbyterian churches," Tim added.

While the coyotes may be getting comfortable, the Kochs say it's an issue that needs to be handled.

"My family can't coexist with a coyote in this neighborhood," Tim said.

"I just don't think that wild animals in your backyard is really something you should have to worry about," exclaimed Jo Nell, especially since the area is home for plenty of families.

"It devastates us," said Tim. "But if it were an infant that got left in a stroller perhaps, who knows what could happen."

WMBF News reached out to the City of Myrtle Beach, and spokesman Mark Kruea said the city is aware of the coyote sightings, but cannot relocate them. The SC Department of Natural Resources says that coyotes that are caught must be killed, and Kruea says the city has no plans to do that.

"We ask pet owners to be responsible for their pets' safety," said Kruea. "Specifically, don't leave food unattended outdoors, as that may attract unwanted animals.  Secure garbage and other materials that might attract or harbor wildlife.  And don't let pets roam the neighborhood. "

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