Coyote complaints cause Outer Banks town to hire trapper

NAGS HEAD, N.C. — A trapper hired by an Outer Banks town has captured and killed 17 coyotes after the town received complaints that the animals were killing pets and running along beaches.

Nags Head police Chief Kevin Brinkley told The Virginian-Pilot of Nags Head that the town paid $1,800 to Larry Sink to trap coyotes after getting 68 complaints over two years.

During North Carolina's trapping season of December through February, Sink caught eight males and nine females. He saw them roaming near Jockey's Ridge and heard them howling near the Wright Brothers Memorial.

Coyotes roam up and down the narrow Outer Banks to have enough range for mating and hunting, Sink said. "I think I'm getting groups dispersing back and forth through Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk," he said.

The trapped animals are shot, usually by an animal control officer, Sink said.

Longtime residents Fred Bamonte and his wife will not let their small dog out alone. In January they saw a coyote carrying what looked like a cat in its mouth. Feral cats and rabbits have disappeared.

"They were all over the place," Bamonte said. "We haven't seen any in the last month."

Nags Head residents are not allowed to discharge firearms in the town limits, but people can shoot a coyote any time in nearby Currituck County. Dare County, where Nags Head is located, is part of a five-county area where the state requires a depredation permit to kill a coyote.

Federally protected red wolves also roam those five counties and look similar to coyotes. Hair samples from the disposed coyotes will be tested to make sure they were not part red wolf.

The coyote first sighting in North Carolina was in 1938, according to a report by the Wildlife Resources Commission. By 2005, coyotes lived in every county in the state.

"Dare County was the very last place to confirm coyotes were there," said Evin Stanford, regional biologist for private lands with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

Last year, North Carolina hunters killed 45,568 coyotes and trappers captured and killed another 6,337, the report said.

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