MOUNT PLEASANT -- One wily coyote appears to be causing fits at Patriots Point.
A coyote slipped out of the marsh reeds just after midnight Monday and nipped the foot of a woman sitting in the sand down by the water at Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina -- the first report of a person being bitten in a long string of reports since the feral canines began tormenting the tourist area in late May.
Not only that, it didn't go away. It came back out a few times, and witnesses kicked at it and threw sand to make it go away.
The woman "was, of course, shocked. But she's OK," said Oliver Rooskens, Charleston Harbor and Resort Marina general manager. The woman declined to be taken to a hospital, according to the police report and Rooskens. She has since checked out of the hotel at the end of her stay, Rooskens said.
Mount Pleasant police think they know this suspect well.
"That one in particular," said Capt. Stan Gragg. Based on its behavior and a consistent description of a skinny, dark gray canine of about 30 pounds, they think this coyote has been badgering people for awhile. "He's not as wary of people as he should be."
That comfort level suggests the animal might be one of the coyotes police were told early on had been fed by people.
And even though police traps have captured 10 coyotes so far, this one has eluded them.
The Monday report followed a June 22 report of a similar-looking coyote attacking two dogs on a leash just before midnight near Renaissance Condominiums just down the road.
"We were in the middle of the road, walking side by side. That thing came straight at us," said John Wolfe, owner of the dogs. "It was a ratty-looking thing. It was aggressive, but it looked hungry."
The coyote zeroed in on the smaller of the two dogs, a mixed breed that looks like a coyote. But the dogs were bigger and ran it off. Wolfe let them off leash to chase it in the woods, where a fight ensued.
The coyotes apparently have depleted the rabbit population in the area, Wolfe said. "I don't think they have anything to eat."
Coyotes have moved into every county in the state, S.C. Natural Resources wildlife officers say. Trapping and hunting now take nearly 30,000 of the German Shepherd-like wild dogs per year. But their emergence in a vacation spot along Charleston Harbor has disconcerted residents and law enforcement officials alike.
With the concentration of sightings and the number of coyotes already caught at Patriots Point, police have stepped up their efforts setting traps and patrolling, Gragg said. There's at least a few more out there, he said. The resort and other nearby destinations are cautioning guests.
"We're trying to clean up any threat to the population," Gragg said.
"There's more and more sightings, so we need to be proactive," Rooskens said. "It used to be a nuisance. We don't want it to become a danger."