COLUMBIA, SC (WBTW) – A Grand Strand lawmaker is trying to reduce South Carolina’s coyote population. 

Myrtle Beach-area residents have complained about more coyote sightings and attacks on pets in recent years. A coyote even ran through Myrtle Beach International Airport about three years ago.

Coyotes aren’t even native to South Carolina.

“Any coyote that’s not in South Carolina is a good coyote,” said Roper Wilkes, the owner of 707 Deer Processing in Socastee.

The state department of natural resources says coyotes came to the state in the 70s, many brought illegally to the Upstate by owners of pens. Fox pens and coyote pens are enclosed areas for hunting dogs to track down foxes or coyotes for sport.

DNR says coyotes are now in every county.

“Almost all of them end up escaping, so every time one of the pens brings in 200, 300 coyotes for the pens, that’s just introducing that many more in South Carolina,” Wilkes said.

A bill introduced by Sen. Stephen Goldfinch, R-Murrells Inlet, would make it illegal to transport coyotes into South Carolina or within the state. Wilkes says he’s worked with Sen. Goldfinch on past coyote legislation.

Wilkes says this bill could reduce the state’s coyote population, which has hit about 350,000, climbing about seven percent each year for more than a decade.

“The coyotes are so plentiful and they’ll run about three times as fast as a fox,” he said.

Wilkes also says South Carolina’s deer population has also fallen about seven percent in the same time as the rise in coyotes.

DNR says it has never released coyotes into the state for any reason, including deer management.