Grand Strand communities search for options after increased coyote attacks on pets

Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 12:31 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 3, 2023 at 6:41 PM EST
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Residents in Myrtle Beach-area neighborhoods are looking for answers after an uptick in coyote sightings and attacks in recent weeks.

Within the last week, a dog was reportedly killed in a coyote attack on Holly Lane in Briarcliffe Acres and another in the Briarwood community on the southbound side of US 17 across from South Gate Rd.

The McGonigal family noticed an increase of coyote sightings. In fact, when their dog Stewie returned home a couple of nights ago, the family noticed something strange about him.

“Scared he looked like he was shaking beyond belief. He still wags his tail, but he was shaking even when I went to pet him. he was super scared,” said Sean McGonigal who lives in Briarcliffe Acres.

When they looked a little closer, they noticed Stewie had an injury to his neck.

“We open the door, and he jumps on the couch and everything. He seemed fine but then I noticed that he had a little bit of blood on his nose or maybe a scratch. Then my mom says he got something on his neck and when we saw we noticed a little bit of chunk taken out of his neck,” said McGonigal.

The Briarcliffe Acres Police Department is urging residents to keep pets inside during nighttime hours, saying dogs should only go outside at night escorted by their owners.


According to the Humane Society, coyotes are usually afraid of humans; however, if you see a bold coyote approaching:

  • Yell, wave your arms, stomp your feet while approaching the coyote
  • Make noise: Voice, whistles, air horns, bells, “shaker” cans full of marbles or pennies, pots, lids or pie pans banged together
  • Throw projectiles: sticks, small rocks, cans, tennis balls or rubber balls
  • Other: hoses, water guns with vinegar water, spray bottles with vinegar water, pepper spray or bear repellent

The Humane Society says whistles and spray bottles can be easily attached to leashes for walking pets.

Alternatively, anyone can legally shoot a coyote within 100 yards of their property, or trap them and take care of them themselves.

If you don’t feel comfortable shooting or trapping a coyote, South Carolina’s Department of Natural Resources provides a list of certified trappers that’ll take care of them for you. Click here for the list of certified trappers.

A spokesperson for SCDNR says coyote populations ebb and flow naturally depending on the seasons and diseases and are fairly new to South Carolina. Many were introduced illegally in the 1980′s for hound-running competitions.

Winter is the peak season for coyotes because it is their mating season, ccording to Jay Butfiloski with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. He also said coyote and pet encounters can be unpredictable, so it is best to keep them away.

“There’s potentially some kind of conflict between dogs and coyotes this time of year. That may be a little bit more territorial as compared to other times of the year,” said Butfiloski.

The Town of Briarcliffe Acres will discuss “coyote activity and safety separation options” at the council meeting on Monday at 5 p.m.

Stay with WMBF News for updates.