SULLIVAN'S ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - A tragedy for one Sullivan's Island family is causing the small beach town to rethink how it's handling the growing number of coyotes on the island.
The Hansen's found their one year old dog, Matey, dead in their yard over the weekend. They believe the dog was mauled by coyotes.
When Scott Hansen and his family moved to Sullivan's Island a little over a year ago, they were worried about their two dogs getting out of the yard and into traffic. It didn't cross their mind the pets could be harmed in the yard.
They'd heard about the growing number of coyotes on the island, but were shocked to find their 27-pound Golden Doodle mauled.
This week, Hansen went in front of town council and petitioned that more be done to control the coyote population.
"They're roaming in our neighborhoods and in empty lots next to families - pets and children," said Scott Hansen.
Chauncey Clark, Sullivan's island Town Council Member, says the wild animals have been spotted everywhere on the island.
Officials are now looking into more aggressive measures to catch them. As it stands, the town's motto with regards to coyotes is to "coexist." Clark says this was at the suggestion of the Department of Natural Resources.
Right now, the town is paying independent trappers to place some box traps and cameras around the island to try and get a handle on the coyotes.
"The box traps haven't worked very well," said Clark. "So, we're going to step that up, probably, to a soft hold trap."
The soft hold trap latches down on the leg of an animal, but shouldn't harm them. Clark says this trap has been successfully catching coyotes on private properties on the island. Homeowners can legally put traps on their properties and more and more seem to be doing it.
However, with stronger traps comes other dangers. Other pets and even children can fall victim to stepping on the devices, if stumbled upon.
Clark says if and when they get the new traps, they're considering putting some type of flag above them, so that people can be aware of where they are - to keep children and pets away.
Clark also didn't know if the town had extra funding available for these new traps.
"It's a problem that we need to deal with," said Hyman Bielsky, Sullivan's Island resident.
Bielsky and his wife own dogs and have been hesitant to bring them to their home on the island. If and when they do, Bielsky says they'll be very cautious.
"We won't let them roam around," said Bielsky.
As for the Hansen's, they just don't want to see this happen to anyone else's beloved pet.
"For our family's sake, I don't want Matey's life to go in vain," said Hansen.
If you live on Sullivan's Island, or any coastal areas where these coyotes may roam, here are some tips for protecting your pets:
Keep them on a leash near and around the beach, especially at dusk and dawn when coyotes are hunting for prey.
Keep trash secured in cans and avoid feeding your dogs outside because the food attracts coyotes.