Intriguing Sullivan’s Island nature scenes:
Pelicans glide above, and occasionally dive into, the Atlantic ... Dolphins dance over and under the waves ... Gulls con our gullible kind into feeding them. ... Coyotes conduct stealth missions in the dark of night.
Which image doesn’t sound like a day at the beach?
Yes, there are coyotes on Sullivan’s Island — and lots more throughout South Carolina.
Last week, The Post and Courier posted videos of two coyotes near Station 26½ in the creeping — and creepy? — maritime forest that has grown up on accreted turf.
Sullivan’s Island resident Stanford Joel captured the moving images with a motion- and heat-activated camera that he put on his fence, facing a beach-access path. His lens has also caught deer in the night-roaming act.
Warning: Before watching those uninvited guests on videos at postandcourier.com, beware that the dark spectacle of crafty — and wild — canine critters could lower your enthusiasm for a moonlight beach stroll.
Before letting your cat, dog or child run loose on Sullivan’s Island, recall that in August, a woman who lives there said her feline pet was killed by a coyote.
And before imagining that our species could — or should — get rid of the Wild West icons that have reached our eastern shores in big numbers over the last quarter century, keep in mind that attempts to eradicate them elsewhere have usually been futile.
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources, citing input from hunters and trappers, estimates that about 30,000 coyotes are now annually being “taken” in South Carolina.
Yet their ranks keep rising.
DNR Director Alvin Taylor told me Monday: “They’ve been in the Upstate a lot longer than on the coast.”
But he added: “I wouldn’t be surprised if someone called me after seeing one in downtown Charleston.”
Indeed, coyotes are increasingly spotted throughout the tri-county.
So how did they move from the mainland to Sullivan’s Island?
Taylor: “They just travel.”
Coyotes even get to, and get by, in big cities across the land. Saturday’s Chicago Tribune reported that 3-year-old Emeil Hawkins was bitten by an animal his family thinks was a coyote on Oct. 27.
From that story: “County officials say they aren’t sure what bit the boy, but they’ve captured and euthanized four coyotes — all of which tested negative for rabies — around a park near the child’s West Side home since receiving the report.”
At least Emeil is OK, aside from “a small scar that will be the only permanent physical damage.”
And presumably Emeil now knows better than to offer fruit snacks to a coyote the way he offers them to the pit bulls in his home.
Bambi in peril
Back to the coyotes who make themselves at home on the Palmetto State range:
Taylor called them “opportunist feeders” that eat, among other things, fawns.
He also said that while research of the species’ impact on other wildlife here and elsewhere continues, “I don’t think anyone on our biological staff thinks the coyote is going to be the downfall of deer in South Carolina.”
Certainly Wile E. Coyote, despite his obsessive-compulsive pursuits, is not the downfall of the Road Runner.
Yet Wile E. persists in overrating himself as a “super genius.”
Hey, bragging about how smart you are generally isn’t smart.
Neither is trying to pet or feed a wild animal that looks like a small German shepherd.
So watch out for coyotes on Sullivan’s Island — or anywhere else.
Then if you see one, follow the Road Runner’s example by making a hasty exit.
And no, you don’t have to say, “Beep, beep.”
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is email@example.com.
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