Isle of Palms residents concerned over safety of coyote traps

ISLE OF PALMS, SC (WCSC) - Residents on the Isle of Palms upset after a cat got caught in a clamp trap meant for a coyote are questioning the use of those traps.

But as some worry about the safety of pets and people around the traps, others say the coyotes need to be dealt with immediately.

Coyotes have been an issue on the island for years.

"We've had two coyote forums and I'm always out there instructing people to not let their cats and small dogs outside unsupervised," Isle of Palms officer Chris Enourato said.

After multiple forums, city leaders decided to contact the Department of Natural Resources about trapping about two years ago. Recently, Animal Control switched from box traps, which only caught four coyotes in two years, to rubberized clamp traps.

"We use soft-leg holed traps for coyotes.," Enourato said. "We've been using them for two months and have already caught three coyotes."

The cat did not suffer any broken bones but the animal's skin was broken and the tendons of one leg were exposed.

"The cat was in agony," veterinary technician Rachael Nocilo said. "To think about anyone else's cat, my dog if I'm walking to the beach, a child if he's chasing a Frisbee. It was terrifying."

She treated the cat after the injury.

"[The trap] has to have enough force to close and keep an adult coyote," Nocilo said. "If it's that small, imagine what it could do to a child's foot, your cat, a little Yorkie or mixed dog."

Animal Control says they caught an aggressive coyote in the same trap two weeks earlier.

"If they're setting them that close to walkways, they need to tell people," Nocilo said.

Animal control says traps are placed strategically away from people.
 
"The undergrowth that we put these traps in is usually not frequented by humans," Enourato said.

He says this is the first reported case of a domestic animal getting trapped and says the cat is expected to be okay.
 
"Anytime you're trapping, there are consequences and you have to be aware of them," he said.

The traps throughout the island are checked three times every day. Isle of Palms officials say the city is following the guidance of the Department of Natural Resources while abiding by both state and municipal laws.

Copyright 2018 WCSC. All rights reserved.