Officials working on plans to control coyote population

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SULLIVAN'S ISLAND, S.C. (WCIV) -- Coyote sightings are becoming common on Sullivan's Island and some residents said the most recent sightings have them worried.

Officials said they cannot completely get rid of the animals and they are concerned because it is almost breeding season.

"I gave them the option of trapping or shooting," said John Newland with Critter Control. "What we are trying to do is make a plan to reduce the population here."

So far, the coyotes have only attacked cats and small dogs.

But some people who live on Sullivan's Island said they are worried about their children.

"Dogs and small children are a part of their food chain or can be," said Chauncey Clark, the chairman of the Sullivan's Island Public Safety Committee.

Officials said they are weighing their options on how to handle the situation. They said it will be a couple of months before they decide whether to trap or shoot the animals.

One factor officials are considering is where they would take the coyotes if they chose to trap them. Another factor involves bringing in trappers since officials said they are the only people who would be allowed to shoot the coyotes.

With breeding season starting next month, officials have issued a warning.

"Watch out for your environment and maintain control of your pets and child and you should be okay," Clark said.

Officials said they don't know exactly how many coyotes are on the island but said on average, coyotes give birth to between eight and ten pups each year.

Officials with the Department of Natural Resources said the animals migrated to South Carolina about 30 years ago and since then, have steadily grown in numbers.