Coyotes Can Protect Your Livestock From Predators

Thanks to Randy Comeleo, Program Advisor, Agriculture and Wildlife Protection Program, Benton County, Oregon, and Oregon Small Farm News for this excellent article! Livestock losses are an unfortunate reality of ranching and the use of traps and snares is a common way to attempt to reduce predator-livestock conflict. However, one USDA study (Shivik et al. 2003) noted that for many types of predators, there is a paradoxical relationship between the number of predators removed and the number of livestock killed. Surprisingly, these researchers found that as more predators were removed, more livestock were killed. Similarly, in a 14-year USDA study at the University of California Hopland Research and Extension Center (Conner et al. 1998), researchers found that trapping of coyotes did not reduce sheep losses. In fact, scientists found that as trappers worked more hours, more lambs were killed by predators. The unexpected results in these studies can be explained by the reproductive strategy and territorial behavior of highly social predators like the coyote. In populations exploited by humans, coyotes compensate for reductions in population with increasing immigration, reproduction, and pup survival rates. In one study, nearby coyotes replaced removed coyotes within a few weeks (Blejwas et al. 2002)! In the words of one researcher,

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6 thoughts on “Coyotes Can Protect Your Livestock From Predators

  1. It’s a funny thing, but the ancestors back east acquired livestock from family in the South, after the Spanish tried to explore the area. When the english arrived, we had herds of cattle, horses, hogs, and so on to trade. We suffered few if any losses to wolves, tho mountain lions were a problem. Colonists had to pen their stock nightly or lost a lot of them. We do not kill predators without good reason–note, please, this is Biblical, as well. Fact is, in times of drought, the ancestors would take older animals, well past their prime, and kill them where the wolves tended to gather. But, any animal taken by them would cause a hunt for the perpetrator. Like Pappy said, wolf is sacred, but Wolf of times needs to be reminded he also makes great fuzzy underwear. walk in beauty

  2. Interesting article, the photo of the coyote and the cow shows what I call predator desensitization. An easily taught Stockmanship skill, very transferable to human interactions with livestock. Although much of the focus of the article is towards sheep and coyote presence and interactions. Coyote presence and interactions are key in monitoring apex predator presence in a cattle operation. http://www.rancherpredatorawareness.net

  3. Excellent article showing once again the importance of looking at the big picture when solving problems. Indiscriminate killing usually doesn’t work for long in ecosystems because nature abhors a vacuum. Pests, be they weeds, internal parasites, or coyotes need to be “farmed” or managed rather than eradicated.

  4. Our neighbor hood is relatively wild with bears, coyotes, and lots of deer. Our dairy cattle and chickens are outside when ever it is not snowing. calves are pasture born. We have never killed a coyote. They have never injured or killed one of our animals. Coyotes are very territorial. If you start killing them, new ones will move in and the new ones don’t know the rules. In addition the coyotes help limit the deer population

  5. Thanks very much for confirming my beliefs regarding coyotes! On this small grazing farm we live comfortably with local coyotes. This article will be shared with neighbor farmers who harbor differing sentiments toward coyotes.
    Thank you!

  6. Thanks, Kathy, for pointing to practical research which may challenge us. Barbara Kingsolver’s novel “Prodigal Summer” explores conflicting attitudes toward coyotes moving east. From the Guardian review:

    ‘Kingsolver, a former biologist and journalist, has a rare ability to communicate widely what she knows as a scientist, and this novel sounds warnings against hunting predators who compensate by breeding faster… The ecosystem reestablishing itself…is seen as a common habitat, not a wilderness to be kept at bay from the farmland. As Deanna says of hunting coyote: “It’s not just one death. It’s a piece of the world turned upside down.” ‘

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