Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Coyotes first appeared in the Upstate in the late 1970s, and nearly 40 years later, the animal is all across the state. But now the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is trying a new program to lower the population of the pest.

Jay Butfiloski is with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. "There's a lot of concerns about coyotes being around people's homes," he says. "There are a lot of concerns about coyotes in relation to kids, even though that threat is relatively small, but also with pets, especially cats, maybe small dogs."

Coyotes also have negatively affected the South Carolina deer population.

"There's some scientific studies that show impacts on fawns, and of course deer hunting is very big in our state," he says.

A new incentive program is aimed to lower the population of the problem predator. Sixteen coyotes will be tagged and released by DNR, four in each game zone.

"The idea is that it will entice or incentivize people to, that maybe normally would not, to go and try to take coyotes," he says.

Anyone who kills one of the tagged coyotes and verifies it with DNR will get a lifetime hunting license, but there are other incentives.

"If you sign up and are registered, and then you take one of these specially-tagged coyotes, there is actually an additional prize that your name is put in the drawing for."

Butfiloski says about 33,000 coyotes are killed each year, mainly by deer hunters, but the hope is that this new program will increase those numbers.

"I know the legislature and those folks have had their ears bent by a lot of their constituents, and so they are attempting to try something, and so this is kind of a way to try to get people to kind of do it on their own."

The registration part of this program is voluntary, you don't have to register to win the lifetime hunting license.
And if you do win the license, you have the option to give it to someone else.