By Gary Cutrer
Published January 2011
Ranchers everywhere continually have to deal with predation of their livestock and wildlife by coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, raccoons, feral hogs and other predatory species. The one that does by far the most damage to sheep and goats is the coyote.
At one time nearly cleared of coyotes, much of the prime sheep and goat production land of Texas’ Edwards Plateau is once again home to Canis latrans, who likes nothing better for dinner than lamb or kid goat.
Why would a rancher begrudge a poor little canine his dinner? Surely there are plenty of lambs in the flock and he can spare one or two to feed a hungry coyote?
The fact is that coyotes take such a toll on kid and lamb crops they have put more than one sheep and goat producer out of business or at least hurt their bottom line severely. And the lesser publicized but just as economically important damage coyotes do is predation of wildlife populations—deer, quail and turkey. With hunting leases a big part of ranching revenue, coyotes are enemy No. 1.
Coyotes are not endangered. Nor are they in any danger of becoming endangered. Coyote populations nationwide have grown to the point that it is possible there are more coyotes now than ever before on this continent. Once thought to inhabit the western Great Plains, temperate areas of the Rocky Mountains and the Southwestern deserts, the coyote now ranges the entire length and breadth of North America. (3)
Chicago, believe it or not, has a coyote problem. The number of nuisance coyotes removed annually from the Chicago metropolitan area increased from typically less than 20 coyotes in the early 1990s to more than 350 coyotes each year during the late 1990s. (3)