Coyote Breeding Season in South Carolina has Begun -- Keep Your Pets Safe

Tracy Stengel
Photo byCrisoforo Gaspar Hernandez

Coyote breeding season runs from January to March in South Carolina. During this time, males may be more aggressive and emboldened as his typical workload is doubled — not only is he on the prowl for food — he’s looking for love.

Pets are at risk for a coyote attack year-round, but during breeding season pet owners should be extra vigilant to avoid an ugly coyote encounter. Small dogs and cats can be viewed as prey and large dogs can be considered a threat. Keep pets on a leash and don’t let them go outside unsupervised.

To deter coyotes from skulking around your house or dwelling space, don’t make your yard appealing to the omnivore. Pick up fallen fruit, don’t leave pet food outside, and keep your garbage can lid secure.

Coyotes can be found in every county of South Carolina — even on the islands. Last spring on Isle of Palms, Karen Britton went for a sunrise walk on the beach with her dog. Four coyotes moved in and attacked her dog. When she started screaming, it scared them off, but her dog was bitten and needed multiple staples and stitches.

It is rare for a coyote to attack a human, but it does happen, usually with coyotes who have been intentionally or unintentionally fed by humans. The South Carolina DNR says children are at greatest risk.

The following situations raise the odds of an attack on a human:

  • Coyotes chasing or taking pets during the day.
  • Coyotes chasing joggers, bicyclists, or other adults.
  • Coyotes hanging around schoolyards, play areas, and parks.
  • Coyotes exhibiting aggressive behavior toward adults.

In the September of 2020, in the neighboring state of North Carolina, there were four reported cases of coyotes attacking Camp Lejeune personnel who were running during nighttime hours near Wallace Creek. Three were Marines, the other, a sailor.

In 2018, in Fort Mill, South Carolina, John Somjak was walking to a wildlife camera to change the memory chip. He had a bag of corn with him when a coyote appeared. John dropped the bag, and the coyote stuck its nose in it. Then, the coyote made a move toward John.

“It was something I didn’t expect at all,” he said. “I’m almost 60. I’ve been in the woods all my life, at least 50 years. I’ve seen all sorts of animals. I’ve never seen anything like this.”

John kicked the coyote beneath its chin and knocked him out. John headed back to his vehicle to get his camera and a knife. When he returned, the coyote was up and ready to fight. As if living through a real-life nightmare, John had to defend himself again until he was sure the animal wouldn’t hurt anyone again.

“I’m not an exciting guy,” John said. “That was a wild ride, man.”

Coyotes are shy, but curious. It’s important for them (and us) to be instinctually wary of humans. That’s why it is vital people never try to feed, pet, or tame them. If a coyote gets too close, don’t run. Instead, look it in the eye and back away. Never turn your back on a coyote. Make noise and wave your arms.

If you come across a coyote unfazed by humans or exhibiting aggressive behavior such as stalking, growling, or lunging, report it to your local authorities or the South Carolina DNR. Remember, a coyote is wild and can be unpredictable. Treat those you encounter with caution and respect.

If you have tips to deter coyotes from getting too close to you or your pets, I’d love to read your advice in the comments!

Comments / 8

Published by

Tracy explores the world with a positive eye, an open heart, and a sprinkling of humor. Without laughter, she would be lost.

Onsted, MI

More from Tracy Stengel

Comments / 0