Coyote sightings have become more much frequent in South Carolina in the past three decades, but state wildlife officials say the number appears to be leveling off.
The State newspaper reported Wednesday that the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources counted more than 30,000 coyotes killed by hunters last year. The agency notes that number has stayed between 28,000 and 32,000 each of the past five years after growing exponentially since the 1990s.
DNR staffers say coyotes have been in South Carolina since the 1970s, when they were brought in to help train hunting dogs. With no predators, they have since spread to every county in the state. The agency blaming them for 80 percent of deer fawn deaths. But the agency says the animals are likely here to stay.
State legislators eased hunting restrictions against coyotes, wild hogs, and armadillos in 2012. DNR has also been encouraging deer hunters to shoot coyotes they come across.