JACKSONVILLE — The coyotes in Onslow County have a sweet tooth.
Farmers in Southeastern North Carolina have reported that coyotes are eating watermelons, the Jacksonville Daily News reported.
Coyotes usually kill calves, goats and sheep, said Melissa Huffman with the N.C. State University cooperative extension in Onslow County. Now the animals have started eating melons and vegetables.
The North Carolina Wildlife Commission has authorized nighttime hunting of coyotes because of the problems.
Jack Holland says a pack of coyotes has eaten $1,000 worth of watermelons in the past two weeks, sometimes eating as many as 20 melons a night. Holland says his family has farmed the 350 acres since 1875. He says this is the worst year for coyotes on his farm.
"They really attacked my crops this year," Holland said. "I mean to tell you they are vicious. They eat all of a melon, even the rind."
He's tried hunting for the animals at night without success, so far.
Holland worries the coyotes will go after his peanut crop this fall.
Coyotes can threaten public health because they carry rabies.
Rabbits are the meal of choice for coyotes. They also eat grasshoppers, rodents and small deer. They also eat livestock and poultry and sometimes feed on garbage and cats and dogs.