Coyotes caught on camera tearing up crops at small Galveston County farm

August 9, 2013 10:00:00 PM PDT
A family in Galveston County is dealing with a dangerous problem at their farm. They say coyotes have been damaging their property, and they caught the sneaky culprits on camera.

"This one they got last night, and this one over here they got several days ago," said Vernon Williams as he pointed to hollowed-out watermelon rinds on the ground at his farm off of FM 646 in Santa Fe.

There are chewed up watermelons wherever you look, and Williams knows what is responsible.

Surveillance video shows coyotes sneaking in night after night. Sometimes, the camera even captures two at a time feasting on ripe watermelon.

"It makes me feel like I've done a lot of work for nothing," Williams said.

For nearly 50 years, Williams has single-handedly run this small farm, where he lives with his wife and next-door to his 98-year-old mother, his daughter and his grandson.

Now retired, he grows fruits and vegetables full-time and sells them at a stand at the end of his driveway. But the stand has been closed for nearly two months -- ever since the coyotes started showing up.

"They come from the fence over here," he said.

Williams said the coyotes may be coming toward his property because of urban sprawl happening in the area. New businesses and homes are going up fast off of the Gulf Freeway, in areas that were -- until recently -- wooded.

"I think it's from all the growth that's coming up between here and the freeway," he said. "All the big shopping centers and big gas stations they're putting in."

Williams has even tried covering his watermelons with wire. Somehow, the coyotes eventually still get to them.

And he tells us that building a fence is too expensive.

"I'm 80 years old," he said. "How much longer am I going to get to do this? And the money it's going to cost; I'd be doing it for nothing for two or three years."

Neither Galveston County Animal Control nor Texas Parks and Wildlife trap coyotes in rural areas like this, and officials cautioned the family not to shoot the animals within city limits, so Williams says he's just going to keep planting -- even if it means he's losing money.

"They're very skittish. You have a hard time looking at one of them," he said. "The only way I got that was by having a camera at night."

Animal control officials tell us coyotes are becoming more and more of an issue in areas like this as the animals begin to lose their habitat. They recommend putting up fences and making loud noises to scare them away.

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