Visitors and residents recall coyote encounters, attacks on Sullivan’s Island
SULLIVAN’S ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - Several Sullivan’s Island dog walkers and regulars are speaking up about their personal experiences with coyotes.
This comes a day after town officials reported five coyote-led attacks involving dogs within the month of August.
They say the wild animals has been approaching people, dogs and roaming open areas of the beach more often than usual.
The Jourdan family says they experienced a too-close encounter with a coyote over the weekend.
“They were out halfway to the water, from the dune, so middle of the beach. And they were attacked by coyotes,” Jourdan said.
Five-year-old Willie Nelson, the Jourdan family dog, was taken by two coyotes early Saturday morning while on a walk with a babysitter.
Jourdan says it happened in broad daylight and in the middle of the beach.
He adds the family was devastated by the loss of their “wonder dog.”
“I was trying to get closure for my family’s sake, for Willie, because we weren’t even there. Which was frustrating. I crawled on my belly for over four miles between stations 26 and 28,” Jourdan said.
The attack occurred at Station 27, a part of the beach several residents have called a “breeding ground” for coyote packs.
Officials with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources say the breed has been approaching people, dogs and roaming open areas of the beach more often.
They add that mid-summer and fall are peak active times for these animals, meaning it is when coyotes migrate to new spaces, feed and have young.
SCDNR officials say another reason for the increased interactions could be from them being opportunistic feeders, meaning they will be quick and take anything they need.
Others say they have been chased by coyotes in the past but escaped.
“We were walking in June when a coyote came out of the dunes and started chasing,” Sullivan’s regular Shelly Carson said. “I was able to chase it away, and it ran down the beach to chase a golden retriever.”
Now, they avoid the area altogether or take proactive measures to be able to walk safely.
“I’ve always known there are coyotes here,” Carson said. “Never seen one until this year. Really, March was the first time I had my first sighting and started carrying pepper spray on the beach. In June I started carrying a birdie alarm. And now I carry a stick with me too.”
Visitors are asking for help from officials to curb the problem.
“It’s close to our hearts, but the coyote system is unfortunately not something that is new, declining or lessened. Rather the opposite,” Jourdan said.
They ask for coyote population control, area management and listening to residential concerns.
Town officials say they do have systems in place to manage the problem, which include education, tracking, hazing and lethal control.
They ask anyone who experiences an encounter or sighting to report the problem immediately.
If you run into a coyote, you’re advised to react loudly, throw small sticks or cans or spray the animal with water.
For more information on coyotes along Sullivan’s Island, click here.
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