FISHERS ISLAND, N.Y. (CBS 2) — Cat owners on a remote island near the Connecticut mainland say they are living in terror.

House cats are vanishing without a trace on Fishers Island and residents believe their pets are becoming food for swimming coyotes.

Posters of missing cats cover the community bulletin board at the Fishers Island post office. Residents in the community told CBS 2’s Mark Morgan they believe they know why the animals are disappearing.

“We kept looking for him and calling for him and then we were told that there are these coyotes that I had heard about and that they liked cats and it was quite possible that they got him,” Charles Kadushin said of his missing cat.

“Quite a few cats have been missing and people have seen the coyotes in the daylight — usually they are nocturnal animals — so they hunt and travel at night and sleep during the day,” Tathiana Lema said.

Fishers Island is about 7 1/2 miles long and up to three miles wide in some places. Austin McPhail has lived there for 22 years, and after seeing coyote tracks for several years, he says he saw one first hand two weeks ago.

“At 11 o’clock during the morning right on the main road. I thought it was a large dog at first…then I realized it was a large coyote,” McPhail said.

So how would coyotes get to the island? Residents said they believe the animals may be swimming from the Connecticut shoreline, which is about a mile away.

Though swimming coyotes may seem far-fetched, a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation official told CBS 2 news that it was “possible.” They also said that the coyotes may have made it to the island on an ice flow in wintertime.

“They need to be eradicated from the island, taken care of, hunted down,” McPhail said.

In the meantime, pet owners on the island are taking no chances and keeping their beloved animals indoors.

What should be done about the coyotes on Fishers Island?  Tell us in the comments section…

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