Coyotes Cause Losses to Livestock Owners
Wildlife Services, a division of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, has a staff of specialists ready to assist livestock owners suffering losses from coyote predation. The specialists will assess the problem and determine the safest and most humane way of handling the situation.
After surveying the farm or ranch, the specialist may determine that methods such as herding livestock into pens at night and improving fences will significantly reduce predation. Removing carrion and selecting pastures with lower incidences of predation are useful habitat modification methods to try. Repellents, toxicants and traps are options in very specific and controlled situations determined by the specialist.
Coyotes are opportunistic and generally take prey that is easiest to obtain. In wild animal populations, they tend to kill young, inexperienced animals as well as old, sick or weakened individuals. Coyotes are capable of catching and killing healthy, young animals in domesticated species that are less wary. Opportunity and behavioral cues guide the coyote in selecting its prey.
Predation is generally more severe during early spring and summer. This coincides with the time coyotes bear their young and their nutritional needs increase in addition to the burden of feeding pups. Night and early morning hours when human interference is minimal are very active times for coyotes.
In Oklahoma, annual losses to coyotes are significant. A study done in 1996 found an estimated 10,600 head of cattle and calves worth almost $3.5 million were killed. A follow-up survey in 2000 found that predators killed more than 2,600 sheep and lambs that year.
Wildlife Services helps Oklahomans solve problems that are created when wildlife causes damage to agriculture. They assist with losses to property and natural resources as well as threats to human health and safety. For more information about living with wildlife there are online resources available at www.aphis.usda.gov. For assistance with predator damage control, contact Wildlife Services at 405-521-4039. (from the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association Week in Review)