Coyote concerns lead to closure of Lookout Park in Tega Cay

Coyote concerns lead to park closure in Tega Cay

TEGA CAY, SC (WBTV) - Tega Cay City leaders say Lookout Park will reopen on Monday, once wildlife officials finish trapping coyotes in the area.

The city began trapping after reports of several sightings and an attack on a man and his dog over the weekend.

Fort Mill Police also responded to a shots fired call on Sunday, in which a man told police he encountered a coyote in is front yard that appeared to be foaming at the mouth.

According to the report, the man thought he lived outside of city limits, where it is legal to shoot at coyotes.

Officers with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Office in Rock Hill says there may be a reason there have been several coyotes spotted in the Tega Cay and Fort Mill areas.

"Coyotes in Tega Cay have a large prey base, since Tega Cay is within city limits and there is no hunting allowed," Lance Corporal Jeff Vissage said.

He says since there is no hunting within city limits, there is a higher population of deer, rabbits and other animals that coyotes eat.

With more sightings in recent weeks, some neighbors are worried about their pets.

"I don't like it," Resident John Purtell said. "When we take {the dogs} out at night we carry one of those little air horn things and I'm hoping that will be enough."

Wildlife officials say in most cases you can take the same precautions if you encounter a coyote, as you would if you encounter a bear.

"No quick movements, slowly walk away,  be loud and try to scare it," Vissage said.

Other neighbors don't seem to be bothered by the animals.

"I would prefer they let them be," Kim Peterson Flanagan said. "They aren't a bother to us, a coyote has been after our cat, our cat handles it--- move on."

Vissage says since you cannot shoot a firearm within city limits, you cannot shoot at the coyotes unless you are in the county.

Leaving trapping as the only option to get rid of the animals. Under state law, you cannot relocate a trapped animal so they are eventually killed after they are caught.

"If they're a nuisance in Tega Cay we can't relocate them down the road because they are just going to be a nuisance to someone else," Vissage said. "And just by looking at an animal you don't know what it has so we could relocate it in a new habitat and then infect healthy animals there."

According to hunting laws, you can hunt coyotes year round in legal hunting areas. There are restrictions at nighttime. For more information click here.

So far, City leaders say one male coyote and two coyote pups have been trapped. A female has been spotted, but not captured.

Trapping is expected to continue through the end of the week. Lookout Park will reopen Monday.

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