When Susan Temple received a surveillance camera as a Christmas gift, she expected it to provide some playful images of deer on her 20 acres near Belton.
More often, she sees disturbing images of mange-ridden coyotes who have made her property their playground after dark.
"It could be that coyotes have been coming onto the property for a long time and I didn't know it. Or it could be that they're getting more comfortable here," Temple said. "Either way, I'm worried for the safety of my dog. He's a husky mix, not at all aggressive. He'd think the coyotes came into the yard to play."
The cameras capture several photos of coyotes, usually in small groups, combing the area near her shed. She also recently learned that on her brother's property, a few miles away, two goats were were gored.
"I don't want to look out my window and see a coyote near the house," Temple said as she left Monday's nuisance wildlife seminar.
Noel Myers, state director of wildlife services for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, led the nuisance wildlife seminar at the Civic Center of Anderson where a team of experts offered suggestions on controlling coyotes, wild hogs, ground hogs, and other undesirable backyard visitors.
Julia Barnes and husband Michael were interested observers at the seminar, largely because they're reminded often that coyotes frequent their backyard in southern Anderson County.
"We've been hearing coyotes howling for several years," she said. "It makes you concerned when people in the area report small pets missing, even in the daytime."
Most farmers in the Anderson area may consider coyotes to be far less invasive than the wild (feral) hogs, which also have become a nuisance in the past 20 years. Once a problem for farmers in marsh areas of the Lowcountry, the destructive night-time visitors devastate crops.
The destruction is so common that Anderson and Abbeville counties are Tier 4 in the 5-tier rankings that determine federal funding to the control the pests.
"You will not hear any of us say we'll eliminate hogs," Myers said. "If farmers can get their fields planted and harvested, that's a success story."
Chase Simmemon, a wildlife specialist with Clemson University's office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, led a seminar on methods to trap hogs and coyotes. Anderson County's wild hog population is so heavy that electronic traps often catch more than 25 hogs at a time.
"Pigs are intelligent. That makes them hard to catch," Simmemon said.
While accurate estimates are difficult, Myers said most experts believe South Carolina is home to at least 130,000 wild hogs. In Anderson County, the Iva area and the Big Creek area between Williamston and Belton seem to be heavily populated.
For more information, visit the Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website (www.aphis.usda.gov) or the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources website (www.dnr.sc.gov).