SULLIVANS ISLAND. S.C. (WCBD) – Coyotes are being spotted in higher numbers on the barrier islands of the Lowcountry. Beachgoers and residents say they’re worried about going to the beach after a dog was attacked along an Isle of Palms beach access path earlier this week.
Spring means breeding season for the furry K-9s and that means coyotes are more active and sometimes more aggressive as they search for food and protect their young pups.
“They’re getting hungry, they want to feed their pups and so they are just moving around a little bit more,” says Isle of Palms Police Chief Kevin Cornett.
Jay Butfiloski from the department of natural resources says the best way to avoid a close-up is to bring all food inside, especially along the beach.
“Tourist type locations such as this because of the transient nature of people coming in for the week and trash everywhere,” says Butfiloski, Furbearer and Alligator Program Coordinator for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
Chief Cornett says while coyotes are afraid of humans, they’ve been known to go after pets.
“Obviously smaller animals are more opportune prey for a coyote to come out and to eat,” says Chief Cornett.
That’s exactly what happened at a beach access point on the Isle of Palms. The dog was attacked by several coyotes and was left needing stitches in multiple spots.
Chief Cornett says at least one den has been spotted near 25th Avenue, if you cross paths with one he says to remain calm and never turn your back on a wild animal.
“So if you see one, don’t go play with it but it’s typically not going to come to you,” says Chief Cornett. “Make some loud noises, you can kind of toss some sticks in their general area and they’re typically going to run away.”
For attacks or bites, officials say incident reports are important. If those coyotes are caught, Chief Cornett says they are killed as a part of the city’s coyote management plan.
“If nothing else, we need to know where this is happening and when it’s becoming popular,” says Chief Cornett. “It’s not just the locations but the time of day is important for us to know, when were they being active.”
Officials say if you encounter a coyote, you should call either SCDNR or local law enforcement so they can be tracked.