HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - From 2002 to 2012, South Carolina's deer harvest dropped 32 percent, statistics the owner of 707 Deer Processing is blaming on one culprit - coyotes.
"They eat about 56 percent of the fawns born every year," Roper Wilkes said.
That's not all they'll eat.
"They eat everything," Wilkes said. "They eat lizards. They eat snakes, mice, rabbits. They eat cats. They eat dogs."
Wilkes has owned 707 Deer Processing for five years. House pets are one of his concerns.
"If you have five cats now, next year you'll have one cat," he said.
The drop is impacting his business.
"At one point, we had 1.2 million deer in the state of South Carolina and now we're down to about 700,000, so it's close to half," Wilkes said.
Hunting in the State of South Carolina is a more-than $500 million industry. Last year, the Department of Natural Resources implemented a coyote incentive program. They estimate hunters specifically targeting coyotes have killed about 1,000 of them.
Russell Cavender is a wildlife expert.
"The coyote population has increased dramatically," Cavender, said. "In our state, they're not a native and so our deer population has no natural predator except for the new coyotes."
Hunters report about 30,000 coyote kills each year. While the incentive program does not yet show an increase or decrease in the number of coyotes throughout the state, DNR reports the program will continue this year.
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Source : http://www.wmbfnews.com/story/36663785/coyotes-impacting-deer-hunting-in-south-carolina