HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Local residents are seeing coyotes where they have never been before and state leaders are calling it an out-of-control problem that needs to be dealt with.
Biologists credit coyotes with the depletion of small game, deer and other wildlife in our forests.
The predator species is taking over, but Horry County District 7 Rep. Alan Clemmons is proposing a new way to control the coyote population.
According to Clemmons, the plan has been up for debate by the members of the state's Ways and Means Committee.
The proposal would offer a $1,000 bounty for each coyote killed that's tagged by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Clemmons said the proposal would have DNR tag twelve coyotes to start the program, three coyotes per DNR's four state regions.
DNR would capture, tag, neuter and release the animals. The proposal allows the DNR board to decide if they want to tag more coyotes or raise the bounty.
"DNR can increase the bounty, but it would be no less than $1,000 and it would be no less than 12 coyotes tagged," explained Clemmons.
Robert Shelley said he is in favor of Clemmons' proposal.
"Coyotes have bred so much, there is so many of them that our deer population is very much down. There has been numerous little animals missing back here and I've seen numerous coyotes in this 20 acre field here," he said, pointing to his open field of land that sit off Pine Island Road in Myrtle Beach.
Shelley said his neighbors are terrified of coyotes.
Clemmons said the problem is not just an Horry County one.
"There was a study done at the Savannah River Site near Aiken. Eighty percent of newborn deer had been killed by the coyote population. Our native wildlife is disappearing," stated Clemmons.
Clemmons believes the bounty program would be an incentive to get more South Carolina hunters out and the coyote population under control.
For Chip Bellamy, a resident of the Pine Lakes Community, a coyote is an unsettling norm. He said several of his neighbors have lost their pets because of the predator.
"They don't have a natural enemy to hunt them and it's just going to be a matter of time before they attack a human being or a small child," Bellamy said.
Clemmons said he wants this bounty to be the first step to help educate the public about the serious problem.
House and Senate members will consider the proposal as part of the budget process, with the House voting on the plan next month.