What Happens If We Don’t Kill Predators?

Thanks to Randy Comeleo, Program Advisor for the Agriculture and Wildlife Protection Program, Benton County, Oregon, for helping with this article. Last week's article, "Coyotes Can Protect Your Livestock From Predators" reviewed some the research showing that we may be better off not killing predators. In fact, researchers found that the more predators we remove, the more livestock are killed. Based on this, they believe that properly implemented non-lethal predator control could considerably reduce the need for lethal control. It was this scientific information, along with actual numbers comparing the cost of killing and trapping with the losses producers suffered, that led local farming and wildlife conservation leaders in Benton County, Oregon, to develop a non-lethal deterrents grant program as an alternative to the county trapping program. USDA and county reports showed that, from 2004 to 2014, the county lethal control program had cost county residents $174,590, while residents sustained $166,406 in agricultural and property losses.  During this ten year period, livestock killed by wildlife included 456 sheep, 393 fowl, and 43 goats.  In response, USDA government trappers killed 738 mammals, including 456 coyotes, 50 raccoons, and 46 bobcats using neck snares, steel-jawed leghold, and body-gripping traps. At workshops and farm visits during development of the grant program proposal, farmers said they were (1) weary of reacting to livestock losses after

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