Mostly Trapping

City sets up an emergency fund that may be used for trappers
Feb 13, 2019 10:52 ET

(Reprinted from above link)

Myrtle Beach city officials passed a resolution and are calling on the public for help with the coyote issues in the city.

The 11-part plan calls on people to document and report coyote sightings and sounds. It also includes the city setting aside $15,000 that may be used for emergency wildlife issues such as hiring trappers to get coyotes on public land.

The resolution is an answer to complaints of coyotes killing several pets in the city and increased coyote sightings.

But, the city council backed off the original resolution authorizing the city to pay part of private property owners’ bill from trappers once a coyote has been caught.

“I’m going to go ahead and put it out there that I’m uncomfortable with the city paying for the actual capture of coyotes especially if they’re not the ones who are habituated and causing problems,” councilman Gregg Smith said in the Tuesday meeting.

Several trappers at the meeting said the coyote problem is never going away.

“They’re here,” Todd Metz of Trutech Wildlife Service said. “You’re not going to get rid of all the coyotes.”

Metz, Adam Baker of Baker Wildlife Solutions and Russell Lavender of Snake Chaser said the practice of removing coyotes is standard. They agreed the most effective way of catching a coyote is studying the area to find where it moves, placing foothold traps and taking the animal outside of the city to shoot it with a gun. Once the animal is dead, Metz said, it is either buried or sold to fur traders.

“What I worry about is the unrealistic expectation of the public that we can get rid of this problem,” Mayor Brenda Bethune said. “We cannot. I mean, we can do things to help and that’s what we’re trying to do. We are not going to get rid of the problem.”

City Manager John Pedersen had originally proposed the council set aside $5,000 to be used to pay $75 to property owners to offset a trapper’s bill and set aside another $10,000 for emergency wildlife situations.

The council decided to fold the $5,000 into the $10,000 emergency fund.

Pedersen said the emergency fund could be used to address coyote dens found on public property.

Jay Butfiloski, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), had told more than 200 people at a recent coyote meeting that DNR did not respond to citizens calling about coyotes because of staffing and funding.

The animals have been sighted from golf courses and streets to patios and driveways in the city. City codes prohibit citizens from using guns, bows and arrows or other types of weapons on coyotes. City codes do allow for coyotes to be shot if there is imminent danger.

The city animal control officers do respond to coyote sightings if the animal is injured or aggressive. However, the department does not take action if it is behaving normally by seeking prey.

“There’s been some talk that removing their habitat has caused them to come to the city,” Smith said. “From what I’ve read, we’re actually building habitat for them. By building more homes, we’re creating retention ponds where there’s always water. We’re creating trashcans where there’s always food. And we’re creating hiding spaces where they can live. Cutting down the trees does not remove their habitat. Building houses increases their habitat.”

Lavender reminded the council that anyone can get a permit to trap coyotes on their private property, but it is dangerous and could end up with unintended consequences such as a pet being snared or a child being caught in the trap.

“If you think you’re going to catch a coyote in a live trap, you might as well buy a lottery ticket,” he said.

City attorney Tom Ellenburg agreed.

“Watching a YouTube video is not going to cut it,” Ellenburg said. “So I would encourage the homeowners that are thinking about this, as I believe it was Andy Griffith who told Aunt Bee, ‘Call the man.’

Don’t attempt to do this own your own unless you’re experienced and know what you’re doing.”

The trappers said they’ve caught about five coyotes in the last four months.

Ellenburg cited the coyote plan of Tega Cay outside of Charlotte, North Carolina, as effective.

Tega Cay officials have a $10,000 fund used to pay trappers once a year to study where the coyotes are on public land, trap them and dispose of the bodies. According to the city’s website, Tega Cay is currently involved in a two-week trapping period with signs warning the public there are traps and a web-based map showing where the traps are located for two weeks.

Myrtle Beach’s resolution takes a step not taken by Tega Cay.

The resolution includes developing a plan to hire a person to scope out food sources for coyotes such as people leaving food out, spills from curbside trash containers and commercial dumpsters that contain food. He said there was already a discussion about hiring or training someone to monitor Pelicans (the city’s residential trash containers) being left on the curb too long after they have been emptied.

Now, he said, the position may include training on food sources for coyotes.

“They eat just about anything. I didn’t know until the meeting that they even eat bird seed,” he said.

The plan calls for education using the city’s website, social media and in neighborhood watch meetings.

According to the resolution, citizens will be asked to document coyote sightings and encounters. The city is asking people not to call 911 unless it is an actual emergency. Pedersen said the sightings report would be sent to DNR to support action requests from the state agency.

There are also recommendations for city leaders to meet with state legislators to talk about the coyote issues facing the city.

State Sen. Stephen Goldfinch and State Rep. Alan Clemmons are introducing legislation to curtail the coyote population.

The city’s resolution includes guidelines for citizens.

People are asked to walk their dogs on six-foot leashes and eliminate food sources outside.

Butfiloski had said a person walking with a stick does deter coyotes from interacting.

The proposal also calls for citizens to “haze” coyotes with noisemakers such as air horns or whistles. Pedersen said the hazing serves two purposes – it frightens the coyote and alerts neighbors there is a coyote nearby.

Butfiloski had told the crowd at the recent public meeting that coyote populations tend to fluctuate and the state is seeing an upsurge. He had said 25,000 coyotes were killed in the state last year but it had not curbed the population to the extent hunters had hoped.

Kelsey Gilmore-Futeral, the state director for the Humane Society of the United States, released a coexistence plan stating killing coyotes do not decrease their population. The plan states coexistence can happen if, among other recommendations, pets are kept on a six-foot leash and food sources are not left outside.

The humane society plan also calls for consistent hazing so the coyotes never become comfortable around people.

Lavender of Snake Chaser called coyotes “apex predators” stating they don’t have a natural predator in the area.

“Well, wolves kill them,” Ellenburg said, “but I’m not sure we want wolves here.”

Janet Morgan is the editor of the Myrtle Beach Herald. Contact her at 843-488-7258 or at janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com.