People who trap coyotes in the city of Myrtle Beach may soon have a more humane way of killing the animal, which is considered by wildlife officers to be a nuisance.
Current city law prohibits most people in most situations from discharging firearms in the city. The ban leaves those who trap coyotes with limited ways to kill them and killing them has become mandatory in an area where coyotes seem to be showing up everywhere - even in the airport.
Myrtle Beach City Council on Tuesday passed the first reading of an ordinance that would allow certified wildlife control specialists, hired by the city, to euthanize a trapped coyote with a firearm. The retained wildlife specialists would be required to euthanize the animal with a 22 caliber rim fire bullet – currently recommended by S.C. Department of Natural Resources as the most humane way of execution.
The ordinance comes a few months after a local trapper of coyotes complained of having to beat his canine captives to death to kill it because of the city’s gunfire ban.
The ordinance expands the definition of firearms under the ban to include “any rifle, pistol, revolver, handgun, air gun, paintball gun, crossbow, slingshot, or any other device which throws, projects or expels a bullet, projectile, missile or similar item.”
Certain exceptions are made for people, clubs and places like law enforcement officers, gun clubs, shooting ranges and landowners discharging a firearm to protect people or property on a minimum of 25 acres.
Currently, as everyone knows there have been some issues with coyotes in the city. John Pedersen, Myrtle Beach city manager
“There are currently seven different exceptions from the general prohibition against discharging a firearm in the city,” said City Manager John Pedersen in introducing the ordinance. “This would add an eighth and that eighth would be a licensed wildlife control specialist who is acting in that capacity and has been properly vetted by the police department.
“Currently, as everyone knows there have been some issues with coyotes in the city,” he said. “Under our current ordinance there is no humane and ethical way to dispatch a coyote that has been trapped. This would provide the city with such a way.”
With the new law, Pedersen said the city will be looking to accept bids from wildlife control specialists to have one or two on retainer to dispatch the animals once trapped.
The first reading of the ordinance passed unanimously. A second reading will be required to make it law.
The Department of Natural Resources says something must be done to control the coyote population.
Joel Chanaca, a law enforcement officer with the Department of Natural Resources, said DNR has two divisions – one for law enforcement and one for biologists who study issues in natural resource management. The biologists are wanting “everybody trapping coyotes and getting rid of them” to help control the growing population, he said.
What’s increasing right now, everywhere, is coyotes. I’m just getting calls all the time about coyotes. Joel Chanaca, law enforcement officer with S.C. Department of Natural Resources
“What’s increasing right now, everywhere, is coyotes. I’m just getting calls all the time about coyotes,” Chanaca said.
Last month, one coyote slid into the Myrtle Beach International Airport, dashing through the terminal and sneaking past security before it was corralled and captured by Horry County Animal Control. No one was hurt.
Residents of Pawleys Island, who were at the airport waiting on a flight to Denver, Colo. when the coyote ran in, said they expected to see coyotes in their neighborhood, but not the airport.
The animals weren’t native here, Chanaca said. Foxes and coyotes were brought in for coyote and fox chases – games where the creatures were put into pens and chased by dogs trained to catch and kill while their owners drank beer from the sidelines, he said. But some of the coyotes escaped their confines during Hurricane Hugo.
Now it’s mating season.
Chanaca said the coyotes usually mate until March 1 and 60 days after mating can have anywhere from three to six puppies in a litter.
“They can breed really quickly and cover a whole area. The place that I’m seeing (where) they’re showing up more than in the country and they’re in the country… is around the cities,” he said.
People want to trap an animal and go let it go somewhere else (but) … you’re causing the problem to spread. Joel Chanaca, law enforcement officer with S.C. Department of Natural Resources
Under depredation permits issued by DNR and state law, trapped coyotes must be euthanized. People can kill coyotes without permits if they are caught within the confines of their residence, Chanaca said.
“People want to trap an animal and go let it go somewhere else,” he said, but “who owns the property where you’re going to let it go? … They don’t want to release say a pregnant female onto that property especially during this time of the year when they’re pregnant and then they have a whole litter of pups and … you’re causing the problem to spread.”
That’s why biologists prefer euthanization, he said, “because they’re just going to keep spreading.”
Reach Weaver at 843-444-1722 or follow her on Twitter @TSNEmily.