Coyote attacks at least five sea turtle nests on Tybee Island

TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) – Tybee Island has had a record year for turtle nests on the island and currently there are 35.

The DNR says a coyote broke into five of the island’s nests. One of them was completely destroyed and eaten away.

MNR knows a coyote is responsible because they have evidence. This photo shows a coyote next to a turtle’s nest marked with yellow tape. Because they only saw one set of leads, the DNR thinks they are acting alone. Dodd says that on developed beaches, like Tybee, finding a food source on the beach is usually a last resort.

“This year was the first time we’ve seen sea turtle nest predation by coyotes on Tybee,” said Mark Dodd, Georgia DNR.

While this may be the first time this has happened on Tybee, Dodd says it’s something they see every year from the start of hatching season.

“Predators locate nests and the number of nests that are attacked increases.”

Dodd says there are currently around 4,000 nests along the Georgian coast.

“Statewide, we’ve only lost four nests to coyotes.”

One of them was on Tybee. The coyote, on Tybee, also entered four other nests, but Dodd says they weren’t a total loss.

“A loggerhead turtle nest has, on average, about 115 eggs and a coyote can take 30 or 40.”

But coyotes are certainly not the only predator of sea turtle nests. This year, statewide…

“We lost about 120 nests to feral pigs.”

So to help stop the predation, Tybee volunteers removed that yellow tape. Dodd says they’re concerned this will help the coyote determine where the nests are.

“We want to remove all of that and leave a stake, maybe not in the same place, so they can’t use the stakes to locate and depreciate the nests.”

Dodd says they put this protection on the nests instead. He says it is an effective method.

“The standard methods we use to protect sea turtle nests from coyotes on some of the islands where they are trapped or hunted are actually physically away from the beach, which we don’t really have those options on Tybee because of all the people on the beach at night.

The DNR says coyotes are generally not a threat to humans, so people shouldn’t panic.

If you encounter one, whether on the beach or in your yard, the DNR says to call them and they will take the appropriate action.

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