Former Tega Cay City Councilman Steve Forrest knows if something isn’t done about the coyote issue in his city, it’ll get worse.
It already has for him.
Forrest and his wife, Judy, had their greyhound attacked by a coyote last spring while Judy was walking the dog. The dog was bitten more than 30 times. Now a kitten, Captain, is gone.
“This is the second (incident),” Steve Forrest said.
But Forrest didn’t see a coyote take the kitten, and state wildlife experts told Tega Cay residents at a recent forum that coyotes often are blamed for a variety of cases when an animal goes missing. But Forrest is convinced Captain was taken by a coyote. He has seen and heard too many incidents of neighbors encountering the animals.
Then there was the greyhound attack.
“In both cases, to say we we’re distressed over the loss of this kitten, I just got fed up,” Forrest said. “No one in this community has ever had to deal with this problem like this (in the past). We never had this kind of situation.”
Forrest served four terms, so he knows the public pressure for action that occurs when an issue like coyotes arises. The city’s recent decision not to bring in hunters or trappers to actively remove coyotes, and its response to the greyhound incident, “rubbed me the wrong way,” Forrest said.
He thinks the city is faulting residents for encounters with coyotes rather than looking for a fix.
“We are not seeing any kind of effort being made,” he said.
Forrest wanted to know why more attention wasn’t given to a neighbor who proposed, at the recent forum, bringing someone in to trap the animals.
“We’ve given them an answer that doesn’t require shooting,” Forrest said. “Basically the mayor and all the wildlife people say, ‘You’ve got to live with it.’”
For city leaders, the issue isn’t quite so simple.
“We are aware of the the coyote situation in Tega Cay, but it is everywhere,” said Mayor George Sheppard. “I recently heard that they are in Charlotte.”
The city held its forum to help educate the public. Experts offered tips like not leaving food outside for other animals because it tends to attract coyotes. Even with as much information as is available, there isn’t consensus.
“I believe it was split on residents asking for us to hunt the coyotes and residents saying that the individual pet owner needs to take some responsibility,” Sheppard said.
A few weeks back Sheppard spent several hours with someone able to trap and the remove animals. The mayor also asked his city manager to meet with two people known to trap coyotes and to report the findings at the Dec. 19 Tega Cay City Council meeting. So far, all he has heard is the city can work to decrease the population, but the trapper told Sheppard they would never eliminate them completely.
City leaders understand coyotes can be a difficult issue for residents, particularly when the loss of pets is involved. But they insist they aren’t sitting idle.
“It is a matter that City Council is taking very seriously, but they don’t want to rush into a decision without carefully weighing the pros and cons of each decision they could potentially make,” said Charlie Funderburk, city manager.
Funderburk said city police received “very few, if any” reports of coyotes in the past month. City Hall hasn’t fielded any such reports. But since trapping and relocating the animals is allowed Dec. 1 to March 1 by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Funderburk is inquiring about it.
“We are still encouraging folks to follow the tips provided by SCDNR on their website as well as at the recent forum we had,” Funderburk said. “Based on calls received over the past year, the coyotes seem to be around holes 5 to 6 and 15 to 17 on the golf course.”
There haven’t been any reported coyote attacks on humans. The city is reminding people not to go on the golf course at the sites of past reports or elsewhere, except to play golf.
“People are not allowed to use the golf course for anything other than golf activities, so they should not be walking their pets or exercising on the golf course or cart paths,” Funderburk said. “The city has implemented a plan of public education. Public education is the first, and probably most important, step.”
Funderburk echoes the mayor in saying there is only so much the city can do to prevent coyotes.
“Unfortunately, all the experts we have spoken with regarding coyotes have all told us that we will never fully eliminate coyotes from the city,” Funderburk said. “We may reduce, but that reduction may be short-lived.”
Forrest just wants to see some action by the city. Whether his Calloway Pines Drive home just happens to be near a coyote den or whether other residents citywide are having the same problem, Forrest said the injuring of one pet and loss of another would be easier to take if he knew city leaders were trying to do something about it and not just going with the “live with it” mentality.
“I’m living with it,” Forrest said.
Want to know more?
An update on city efforts to control the coyote population will be given at Tega Cay City Council’s meeting Dec. 19. That meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the Glennon Center.