HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - About 30 years ago, a large and dangerous pest invaded Pickens County, SC. Now, it's taken over the state. We're talking about coyotes. More neighborhood development in Horry County means more coyotes are being displaced, and they're showing up in yards.
"Within the last five years my calls have rose considerably," said Russell Cavender, a local coyote trapper and owner of Snakechaser Pest Control. "A client of ours who had a cat that was killed by a coyote. And that was the second one this month."
Pets are occasional victims of coyotes. Here in the Grand Strand, it's no different. Facebook posts by a south strand neighborhood watch group have surfaced in the past week of people's cats eaten and coyote sightings.
"FYI: Security guard spotted a coyote in the wooded area on the bypass in Myrtlewood between 38th and 48th Avenues this a.m.," one worried Myrtle Beach resident posted.
"Catch that thing. My precious cat was killed also by one! As well as numerous other people's animals," replied one person.
"If you let your cat outside, you're very likely to encounter a coyote at some point," Cavender explained. "A coyote can jump over an eight to 10-foot fence, easily. There's videos on the internet where you can see coyotes grabbing cats and jumping over 8-foot fences. So they are very, very adaptable and they can live in any environment. So there's not much you can do. And the coyote population isn't going anywhere, it's always going to be around."
He said last weekend a client's cat was eaten by a coyote in Little River. He's had about ten calls so far in August to catch coyotes.
He said it's best you adapt to the coyote invasion. South Carolina Department of Natural Resources encourages people to not leave their pets outside unattended. Greg Lucas, an SCDNR representative said coyotes love an easy meal, and small dogs and cats fall in to that category. Besides domestic pets, coyotes follow the trails of deer, rabbits, raccoons and other small mammals.
Lucas said coyotes aren't a threat to human life, but they have left a dent in the fawn population of South Carolina, especially near the Savannah River. He said research has found the more people try to get rid of the population, the more coyotes there are. He said the litter size has increased in some places.
When it comes to keeping coyotes away from your home, reducing the outside food source will work. Officials say to keep food, especially pet food, inside.
In Myrtle Beach, firing a weapon is illegal. You can't kill a coyote with a gun unless you are a licensed professional trapper, or law enforcement. If you have a hunting license, you can hunt them all year outside city limits and depredation permits are available through the SCDNR anytime.
Trapping is allowed on your property or with written permission on another's property in Myrtle Beach. But remember this, relocating a coyote is never an option. If you catch one, it must be killed. However, Cavender said catching them isn't likely.
"The thing is about coyotes is they're super intelligent and they adapt very easily. And there's only a couple of ways of trapping them. One is a foothold snare which is not usually recommend in a neighborhood because you could catch a kid or a dog. And then there's another trap called a collaram which throws a snare over it's neck. And those two are really only the good ways of catching them, you can't live trap a coyote, they're just too smart for that," Cavender said.