In about two weeks, the city of Tega Cay should have a better idea of how much it will cost to implement a program to manage what has apparently become an out of control coyote population. Following up on a recent decision to take action, City Manager Charlie Funderburk is expected to deliver a report at the Jan. 17 Council meeting that outlines the expense of committing to the multi-pronged program.
It’s good to see the city, which has received numerous complaints from residents who say coyotes have been menacing them and their pets and causing a ripple of anxiety with a nightly chorus of howling, take a proactive approach. After some research, the city is largely mimicking the plan put in place by the city of Mount Pleasant, which stresses public education, close monitoring of the coyote population as well as trapping, removing and euthanizing the animals. The trapping and killing aspect would be used only as necessary, officials said, and presumably that would be the most expensive component because it would involve contracting services.
While the city deserves credit for addressing a problem that would seem destined to get worse over time if left unchecked, it has become apparent that this is not just a Tega Cay problem. We have heard from residents of Fort Mill – both those who live inside town limits and residents in the unincorporated Fort Mill Township – and Lake Wylie with similar complaints and fears.
One Fort Mill resident told us about coming home one evening just in time to see a coyote run through her subdivision with a cat in its mouth. Just last week, a local pastor, the Rev. Joanne Sizoo of Grace Presbyterian Church, had to rush her dog to the vet for emergency surgery after the dog suffered multiple injuries after an encounter with what is believed to be a coyote.
This is clearly a York County problem and, like other issues, such as runaway development, an intergovernmental approach is needed. Not that the problems of over development and unruly wildlife are mutually exclusive. It stands to reason that ever-dwindling habitat forces coyotes and other critters to seek food and shelter elsewhere. So then, it makes sense for all the municipalities to share resources and expertise to confront a common problem.
Experts explained at public meetings that coyotes are a particularly difficult animal to manage. They have been described as clever, resilient and adaptable and clearly they are persistent. Public education is key as one of the most important facets to the management program is making residential property less inviting. That means no more leaving food outside for pets and benign critters such as squirrels and birds and creating a less tranquil environment.
There are some troubling aspects to the trapping and removal part of the program, notably the potential for collateral damage and the fate of coyotes that are removed, but not euthanized. However, like Tega Cay City Councilman Ryan Richard said recently, taking no action at all is not an option.
This is a good start, but two heads are better than one and we would look forward to seeing what ideas came out of a group effort that included all three local governments.