MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Residents are complaining about an overwhelming presence of coyotes and are calling it the "hot topic." One neighborhood Facebook community page is filled with questions and concerns of the animal looming in areas around homes. Although an urban environment, unfortunately, coyotes are invading.
They're drawn to small animals, pet food and garbage. From 38th Ave. to 48th Avenues North, neighbors say they're taking their coyote infestation into their own hands.
Chip Bellamy is a Pine Lakes resident. He's one of the people put in charge of lowering the coyote population. Pine Lakes Golf Course sought his help last year, when the growing coyote population led to an excess of them on the course. One golf course worker said coyotes chewed many of the ropes and did some other damage to the course, but since help was called in they haven't had problems this year.
However, the neighborhood disagrees. A popular neighborhood Facebook page is overflowing with concerned comments. People are stating they've been hearing animals attacked and an increase in sightings the past few weeks.
Bellamy said the coyotes aren't as strong in numbers as they were two years ago, but there's too many. Bellamy said the major issue is coyotes have no natural predator, and are able to breed quickly. He plans to start trapping in the neighborhood.
Deborah Duckworth lives in the Pine Lakes area. She said she's going to take more precautions when walking her dog. Duckworth doesn't live in Myrtle Beach full time, and can't believe coyotes are living around her home.
"We have coyotes and I have another dog that was attacked by it, but I didn't expect to have that problem here," Duckworth said.
Donald Sloan lives near Pine Lakes. He said it's smart to take precautions in the area.
"It's not ideal to have a wild animal like that and the rest of us in a residential neighborhood...I've got a friend that lives further down on Pine Lake Drive and he lost two of his house cats to the coyote," Sloan said.
He agrees the animals should be trapped. "There are places where coyotes belong in the environment, but not in the city."
It is illegal to shoot a firearm in the city of Myrtle Beach. However, it is legal to trap a coyote on your property, or, with written permission, trap on another's property. City officials suggest you hire a professional trapper, though. Myrtle Beach spokesman Mark Kruea said he hasn't heard of any complaints recently. You can find certified coyote trappers and more information on what you can do on the City of Myrtle Beach's website here.
In efforts to decrease coyote populations across the state, government became involved. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources has just launched its Coyote Harvest Incentives Program.
According to SCDNR's website, "The Coyote Harvest Incentive Program was created by a Budget Proviso (47.10) passed by the 2016 South Carolina General Assembly. This proviso directs the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) to develop and implement a coyote tagging and reward program."
The idea began in legislature as a $1,000 dollar reward, but changed as a proviso with a complimentary lifetime hunting license reward.
Other prizes include a rifle and Yeti cooler.
The incentive program is in effect now. However, SCDNR furbearer Jay Butfiloski said the department is still in the process of capturing the 16 coyotes to be used as the 'hunting prize' of the program.
The program works like finding the golden Easter egg in an egg hunt. SCDNR is capturing 16 male coyotes, tagging them, and then releasing four in each of the four game zones in South Carolina. The 16 tagged coyotes are the 'golden Easter egg.' Anyone who kills a tagged coyote, saves the carcass for verification and contacts the SCDNR, will receive a complimentary lifetime hunting license. This lifetime license may be issued to a designee of their choice instead if that person chooses.
Butfiloski said on average, hunters kill about 30,000 coyotes annually. Trappers kill a little under 3,000. But, the coyotes have still increased in population and are hurting the state's deer population with growth.
Coyotes are considered a elusive pest. You can hunt and trap them year around. Butfiloski said no incentive program in South Carolina like this has existed before. But, other states have bounties for capturing coyotes.
He said the reason for the program is to hopefully inspire more people to hunt and trap coyotes. If the program doesn't inspire additional people to hunt the animal, the hopeful dent to the coyote population will not happen.
You must register with SCDNR to participate. Butfiloski said about 500 people registered as of Tuesday.
For more information and details on the incentives program click here to be redirected to the SCDNR's website.
Be sure to check your local laws and permit rules before hunting and trapping.
You can find the link to Myrtle Beach's coyote rules here.