COLUMBUS, Neb. (AP) — A pair of coyotes that showed up on Quail Run Golf Course about a month ago are startling more than unsuspecting players.
They're apparently scaring away unwelcome vermin, too.
The Columbus Telegram reports the plastic coyote decoys were purchased by the city earlier this year to protect the 18-hole course from raccoons, skunks and other diggers that tear up the sod while searching for an easy meal of grubs and insects.
The animals have been a problem for years, forcing employees to frequently reseed the damaged areas.
But it's been a different story so far this year.
Aside from spring fixes to repair damage caused last fall, local golf officials say critter-caused destruction is down significantly in 2013.
"It's next to none,'' said Golf Pro Doug Dunbar, adding that there have been only a few isolated spots where animals have dug into the Quail Run dirt.
The plastic coyotes have shiny eyes and a fluttering tail that give the appearance of an animal on the move.
Dunbar said similar decoys have been used at golf courses in North Bend and Bellevue in an attempt to scare away geese, which is where he got the idea for the $150 purchase.
At Quail Run, the fake canines are periodically moved around the course so the raccoons and skunks don't catch on to the trick.
"You really don't know where they're going to be,'' said Dunbar.
This element of surprise has caught more than one person off guard, including the golf pro.
Although Dunbar is giving the coyote decoys some credit for reducing the vermin problem, he also admits the absence of another creature is likely playing a large role.
The grubs that typically show up toward the end of August haven't appeared yet.
Dunbar said a chemical applied to the course to kill the insect larvae may be more effective this year.
Regardless of the reason, he's happy to see Quail Run in better shape as one of the course's most important events approaches.
Quail Run will host the Class C Girls State Golf Championships for the fourth consecutive year Oct. 14-15.
Information from: Columbus Telegram, www.columbustelegram.com