nchas coyote

A coyote roaming a neighborhood off Dorchester Road near Charleston International Airport has been blamed for killing a cat. Rodney Travis/Provided

Rodney Travis has lived for 30 years in a woodsy Ashley River neighborhood near Charleston International Airport. He'd never seen a coyote before.

But two years ago, one strolled across his backyard as he sat at the picnic table. The other day, one appeared in the lot next door. It was bold and didn't spook as Travis fetched his camera from inside. He thinks it may have killed his cat.

"He went back in the woods, came back out and looked at me nonchalantly in broad daylight as I was loading my car for work," Travis said.

Terry Johnson, who is Travis' neighbor, scared one off with a pellet gun recently because it didn't slink away. He was afraid it was rabid.

The next day, the coyote was back, sunning itself in the yard. Johnson has seen coyotes before but not in daylight, he said.

"Coming out in the daytime, these guys are getting pretty bold," he said. "We're infested."

The wily coyote is making itself more and more at home in the suburbs and urban environs around Charleston. In fact, they're in the city itself.

The Citadel's public safety office took a report a week ago about a sighting on one of the school's sports fields, according to the press spokeswoman. The campus is haunted by a coyote with a distinctive limp, seen regularly enough at night that it's been given the nickname "Swampfox."

Travis' neighborhood began having the recent problems at the same time that Air Force officials and federal trappers launched a coyote cull for the second time in six months at Joint Base Charleston. It came after a dog was attacked at the airfield. That's not too far up Dorchester Road from him.

The scavengers have become a problem in Mount Pleasant and on Sullivan's Island and Isle of Palms. They have turned up in urban Myrtle Beach, Greenville and Spartanburg, among other locations. They are considered a nuisance and a threat to pets and deer fawns.

Coyote now roam every one of the 46 counties in South Carolina.  Across the nine coastal counties, 56 coyote sightings overall have been reported to date in 2017, according to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. DNR does not chart specific locations.

There's no sign of them going away. 

"Coyotes in urban areas are going to be more and more common," said Jay Butfiloski, DNR wildlife biologist.

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Reach Bo Petersen Reporter at Facebook, @bopete on Twitter or 1-843-937-5744.

Science and environment reporter. Author of Washing Our Hands in the Clouds.

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