Famous scientist tells USDA Wildlife Services their age old coyote killing program actually increases number of coyotes and depredations-

USDA Wildlife Services and its prior incarnations such as Animal Damage Control and Predator and Rodent Control has been indiscriminately killing coyotes for as long as the agency existed. This practice has often irritated a diffuse collection of conservationists, scientists, and the general public.  However, politically better placed livestock interests have been able to keep the program going year after year.

Overall, it seems Wildlife Service’s hundred years of efforts in killing coyotes has not been effective. In fact, it seems to the contrary. Coyotes have gone to being a medium sized predator in the Western United States to occupying all of North America.

Indiscriminate killing, as opposed to targeted control, refers to killing as many coyotes as possible in an area, given the resources available. Targeted control is the effort to kill or otherwise deter specific coyotes that are preying on livestock (usually sheep).

In a letter to Wildlife Services, Dr. Robert Crabtree, founder, chief scientist and president of the Yellowstone Ecological Research Center, http://www.yellowstoneresearch.org  answers the question “What effect does reduction of coyotes (older than 6 months) have on the remaining population?” He wrote the scientific opinion letter because of a request from Brooks Fahy, Executive Director of Predator Defense.

Dr. Crabtree wrote “Prior to widespread human persecution starting in the mid-nineteenth century, wolves have provided a constant selection factor inflicting mortality, competition, and numerous other sub-lethal effects.”  He then said this tremendous pressure on coyotes from wolves resulted in the evolution of a species that is in a nearly constant state of colonization to make up for mortality and displacement by wolves. When the wolves were eliminated, the coyote’s drive to colonize did not end.

Human attempts to reduce or eliminate coyotes were actually relative mild compared to the previous presence of wolves. Coyote populations often expanded to “near saturation” of the available habitat. Whenever coyotes were killed indiscriminately in large numbers in an area, there was immediate immigration. Also, while “unexploited” coyote populations had low pup survival rates, with human caused mortality (“exploited populations”) coupled with no wolves, coyote pup survival increased greatly due to a prey surplus. As the unusual number of surviving pups grew, there was pressure for hunting coyotes to overcome caution and attack more concentrated sources of calories, i.e., sheep and deer, rather than voles, rabbits, insects, etc.

Crabtree said that in order for humans to reduce coyote populations, there needed to be 70% or greater coyote mortality. This was not just for a year, but all of the time. Significant indiscriminate reductions of coyotes triggers a switchover of the coyote population back to one of constant colonization.

Crabtree concluded, “Coyotes are still products of their evolutionary past. Biological, economical, and ecological evaluation of control practices should be a requirement undertaken before any public or private effort to reduce losses due to coyotes or any other predator. In conclusion, it is my opinion based on decades of field research that the common practice of reducing adult coyote populations on western rangelands is most likely ineffective and likely causes an increase the number of lambs, fawns, and calves killed by coyotes.”

Here is Dr. Crabtree’s full letter.

Crabtrees-Letter-on-Coyotes

 
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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides.

57 Responses to Dr. Robert Crabtree – Little scientific basis to justify control programs that indiscriminately target adult coyotes

  1. avatar Rancher Bob says:

    So we let the wolves kill the coyotes for us, which reduces the number of fawns calves and lambs killed by coyotes. Then what do the wolves eat? Very interesting, isn’t there a childhood story to that effect.
    Target one coyote or a entire population in only one area immigration occurs, happens in coyotes, wolves, deer, ect. Mr Crabtree wrote just what Predator defense wanted to hear it seems. I want to know what it cost to identify offending predators and only remove individual offenders, but even removing those individuals would upset many.

    • avatar Nancy says:

      Well Bob… in the past half century, how many coyotes have been shot, trapped or gunned down by WS aircraft (hundreds of thousands would be a modest estimate) to satisfy ranching interests and yet coyotes STILL manage to keep their numbers up there enough to irritate the crap out of ranchers and keep WS on the federal payroll, year, after year, after year.

      Perhaps its time to step back and acknowledge the fact that this way of “controlling” predators just ain’t working to well :)

  2. avatar Ralph Maughan says:

    All ecosystems have predators. They all have parasites too, including your body (ha!).

    As far as the lands and waters go a question is, If you don’t want to have the larger predators, do you realize the alternative is more of the smaller, faster reproducing ones? Is that OK with you?

  3. What is the monetary cost to attempt remove more than 70% of a wiley predator from a section of rural real estate on an ongoing annual basis? Is this a good use of taxpayer money, when anything less yields no positive result? Besides Wildlife Services, the recreational predator hunters and trappers have also figured out the coyote racket. Some of them will even admit they’re not making a dent, but they’re heroes to the ranchers and get invited back in the fall to hunt ungulates, and of course they can never run out of coyotes.

    • avatar JB says:

      “What is the monetary cost to attempt remove more than 70% of a wiley predator from a section of rural real estate on an ongoing annual basis? Is this a good use of taxpayer money…”

      Exactly. I would add that to properly evaluate this question you need to know the value of the resources produced by sheep, and gauge the cost of control relative to this value. In the not-to-distant past, the value of sheep was high, as we were far more dependent upon wool. However, wool has largely been replaced by modern synthetics (and the obesity epidemic in America–driven by agricultural subsidies for the most calorically dense foods–is going to cost us billions in years to come in health care).

    • avatar JB says:

      A follow up–

      The (perceived) need for coyote reduction programs could be reduced by industrializing sheep production (i.e., high density feed lots). While I know these types of facilities don’t sit well with the animal rights folks, they do allow for environmental impacts to be concentrated and more easily regulated. By concentrating sheep in one place they would overlap with the range of fewer coyotes–meaning fewer “problem” animals would need to be killed in response to depredations.

  4. avatar WM says:

    From Dr. Crabtree’s letter:

    ++Related research indicates that predators switch to alternative prey (livestock) when a preferred prey item is absent or in low numbers.Voles and other rodents like jackrabbits are a preferred major staple of coyotes in the West. These prey species require cover and ample supplies of forage (grass and forbs). On many western rangelands grasses, forbs, and protective cover have been greatly reduced by domestic livestock grazing, leaving predators with fewer preferred prey to utilize.++

    If BLM or the FS would pull the plug on a few representative sample grazing allotments (or significantly reduce the AUM density), this hypothesis could be tested.

    Is the will of the federal government there to do it? It certainly would not cost the taxpayer much in the way of this experiment (foregone public grazing fees at $1.34/AUM or whatever the current rate is, offset against no WS control actions costs) for say a three to five year field research period. I bet some groups would even fund the research.

    **Note also the original draft of the Crabtree letter goes back to 1997.

  5. Do away with subsidies for lamb meat and wool,charge a realistic grazing fee for grazing on public lands, and the domestic sheep welfare ranchers would no longer exist. Problem solved.

  6. avatar Mike says:

    Not a surprise. Time to end all funding for Wildlife Services.

    If only the Obama administration was pro-science.

  7. avatar CodyCoyote says:

    The one year that I asked for and got data from the State of Wyoming predator control board which supervised all 23 counties’ predator management in addition to working hand-in-glove with ( Animal Damage Control ) Wildlife Services , it penciled out to costing over $ 1000.00 [per coyote. They spent $ 6 million killing less than 6,000 coyotes.

    If that helps…

    I fail to see much if any positive Cost/ Benefit to that amount of expenditure.

    One of my favorite folk sayings from Wyoming is ” Kill a coyote and two take it’s place…”

    • avatar WM says:

      Cody,

      ++I fail to see much if any positive Cost/ Benefit to that amount of expenditure.++

      If read the WY Wildlife Services WY state report correctly (2009 and 2010 charts, which are thought to be representative), the total amount spent on ALL predator control actions (and that is a whole bunch of other animals besides coyotes) in WY is less than $6M, about half of which is borne by the cooperator including the wool growers, or whoever else it might be from the specified list; they pay roughly half of that $6M. If it wasn’t working one would think they might examine whether their money might be better spent. Maybe it could be. I don’t know.

      From the report:

      ++ Estimates of the economic benefit of predator management in Wyoming have indicated
      the total benefits for livestock production ranged from $9.5 million to $13.9 million. While the total cost of predator management programs in Wyoming were estimated to be $6
      million. These costs include expenditures by WS and County Predator Boards, as well as
      costs incurred by livestock producers employing nonlethal methods. Based on the $13.9
      Wyoming million figure of benefits for livestock production, the net benefit
      of predator management for Wyoming is estimated to be $7.9 million, with a benefit to cost ratio of $2.30 to $1.++

      http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/state_report_pdfs/2010/52-wyoming.pdf

      • avatar DLB says:

        I would be interested to see how they came up with a figure of $13.9 million. A very difficult figure to substantiate compared to the $6 million in expenses I’m guessing……

        • avatar Jon Way says:

          DLB,
          I agree, I wonder how they came up with these figures. I still see the ultimate in hypocrosity in this. Even if they pay half into the system they still get 50% covered by our tax dolars and these are supposed to be the independent, non-reliant on the US taxpayer, hate the welfare east coast liberal type of people.

          It is only a matter of time before the science keeps up with the needlessness of this program and I am glad Dr. Crabtree came forth with this letter. He only has 30 years experience on the subject; you would think someone would listen.

          • avatar WM says:

            Jon Way,

            If you think the WY report C-B analysis is bad, then the ID statistic will floor you. Instead of a $2.30/$1 ratio it is something like $3+/$1.

            And, permit my candor here, nearly every state gets WS subsidies of this type and per capita magnitude, and those in the Midwest ALSO get huge dollars for crops subsidies. Plain and simple agriculture is subsidized at nearly every corner. That is a conscious federal policy decision that was made decades ago (very tough to reverse), and as global warming continues to plague crop/livestock production (and remember feedlot cows eat corn, etc.) I expect we will be seeing more of it rather than less, as risks of being in farming/ranching continue to become more severe and unpredictable. I don’t think private crop insurance will likely be affordable to some in the marketplace, especially folks who are not diverse in their operations. The alternative would liklely be even bigger agribusiness with the likes of Archer Daniels Midland growing in size and political influence. If you don’t like this stuff now, wait a few years. It is likely to be worse, IMHO.

            • avatar JB says:

              WM:

              I know very few people who condemn all types of government subsidies. However, most of us want our tax dollars to go to subsidize programs that benefit society. If, as Dr. Crabtree suggests, indiscriminate coyote killing does not work for controlling livestock depredation, then our tax dollars are being wasted–that is the fundamental point.

              On the subject of farm subsidies…

              I saw an interesting documentary the other day (the Weight of the Nation) where numerous public health researchers lamented the fact that the very foods that are the worst for us (e.g., beef, corn) are highly subsidized, while foods that are better (green vegetables) receive few subsidies. The documentary noted that while the price of highly subsidized foods like beef, eggs and corn has remained relatively stable, the cost of purchasing the healthiest foods as skyrocketed; this, researchers say, is one of the primary contributing factors to the obesity epidemic.

              I’m all for cheap food, and I am happy to support our nation’s farmers (especially family farms) with subsidies. However, smart policy starts with prioritizing subsidies for foods that are actually good for us; likewise, smart policy would be prioritize subsidies (in the form of govt. programs) that actually show some benefit to society.

            • avatar JB says:

              And as a follow up, estimates derived from data collected from 1998-2000 suggest that-at that time–we were spending more than $75 BILLION annually to address obesity-related medical expenses.

              Cheap beef, eggs and corn = fat Americans = type 2 diabetes = massive health care costs.

              We are subsidizing the very source of our collective illness, and then subsidizing medical expenses we incur to manage this illness. The solution isn’t more medical care; the solution is shutting off the subsidies that create cheap (bad) food in the first place.

            • avatar WM says:

              JB,

              Agri – processed food industrial complex.

              McDonalds, Frito-Lay, ADM, Monsanto, DuPont, Simplot…. and the list goes on with lobbyists and elected officials at their beck and call. No doubt many from the corn belt, Ohio included, shape the course of subsidy policy. And, it isn’t just corn, it is rice, wheat, and other comodities. All that raw grain crop subsidy feeds into the price of pork bellies, chicken, beef and lamb.

              Indeed, it would be nice of more healthy vegetable crops with minimal genetic manipulation, less herbicides/insecticides/rodenticides were given higher priority and subsidies. We will pay more on the medical end as babyboomers age, and some could be stayed by better diet rather than drugs and costly procedures.

            • avatar Jon Way says:

              So I have a hobby garden in my yard. Should I call up and get subsidized too? I do agree with you, WM, and your analysis. I am just saying it is very hypocritical and I agree with JB, it should be done on healthy foods and it really irks me that beef is included as a massive subsidy when it really isn’t good for the average American – maybe it is b.c I don’t eat beef or that coyotes and other animals pay a severe price that isn’t even scientifically (or ethically) justifiable.

            • avatar JB says:

              WM:

              I understand the source of the policies (agribusiness and their lobbies) and agree that other, so-called “staples” also contribute to the problem. So the question is: How do you get Congress to act in the best interest of its citizens, when the interests of the public and big corporations conflict?

            • avatar WM says:

              Jon Way,

              Just to broaden the beef issue, a bit, beef produce leather. Do you wear leather shoes, have leather on car seats or a couch made of the stuff? Many people do, so the use of the products is pretty broad. Furniture glue and other adhesives also use cow parts, as do a few medications.
              _______

              JB,

              ++ How do you get Congress to act in the best interest of its citizens, when the interests of the public and big corporations conflict?++

              If only we had the answer for that question, many of the nation’s problems would be closer to solutions in favor of its citizens, and for the betterment of the environment in which we live.

            • avatar Jon Way says:

              I understand that cow parts are used on many things so at least it isn’t just wasted. Altho you could argue that we are dependent on a lot of non-subsidized things… Personally, I try to minimize and not use any beef products like leather altho I do have to buy leather boots for work but this purchase is also subsidized since I have an annual budget to purchase things like that. Altho I’d rather not use leather for what I mentioned above. But you know that the main subsidy for cow isn’t leather but rather for food (ie, beef)…

            • avatar Rancher Bob says:

              Jon
              You seem to know a lot about beef subsidies maybe you can tell me the name of these programs and the reason for them.
              I know about the Compensated Indemnity Program, that pays 75% of the value of animals loss in natural disaster. Then some have federal grazing. Just chime right in with all those program names, the USDA office can help you.

            • avatar Jon Way says:

              So Bob, do you mean to tell me that you are looking for more welfare money and systems in place? I thought you believed in small gov’t – unless it benefits you?

              The point of my post wasn’t to name programs it was to talk about the program and how it is a gross subsidy and waste of money.

            • avatar Rancher Bob says:

              Jon Way
              I was testing you, your spouting off about subsidies like your talking facts, when the fact is your full of BS.
              Second question how much of your research dollars come from tax dollars. Seems those dollars are good enough for your pockets. Maybe you should get your life in order first.

            • avatar Jon Way says:

              How much of my research money has come from tax dollars: 0! All privately raised, thank you very much.

              Bob, you might want to take a course in reading comprehension. I did not sprout one fact off in my piece. It was opinions based on how WS does their jobs and in my (and other peoples’) opinion wastes our tax dollars. Of course, your rebuttal doesn’t include any facts either so thanks for getting your kicks “on testing me”. It seems that you all don’t want to be told know when it comes to getting your subsidies…

      • avatar CodyCoyote says:

        APHIS cannot be trusted. Lies, damn lies, and Ag Statistics as Mark Twain might put it.

        Remember, these are the same Ag stat people and ‘ phone it in ‘ methodology who claim thousands of cattle and sheep are lost to wolves in WY-MT-ID , when US Fish and Wildlife ( required to investigate , document and enumerate apex predation ) says there are dozens.

        I cannot accept their B/C claims.

        • avatar Jon Way says:

          Amen to that… There needs to be an objective third party doing this analysis and until then how can anyone expect to believe those numbers.

  8. avatar Ashley says:

    “In conclusion, it is my opinion based on decades of field research that the common practice of reducing adult coyote populations on western rangelands is most likely ineffective and likely causes an increase the number of lambs, fawns, and calves killed by coyotes.”

    I’d really like to know just what kind of research this guys is claiming to have under his belt? I do agree with his findings as far as kill more coyotes, prey poulation goes up, litter sizes increase, etc.
    HOWEVER, with a good predator program you will and do UNDOUBTEDLY see a DECREASE in the number of lambs, fawns, and calves killed by coyotes! And by a good predator program I mean one where someone is actively harvesting coyotes year-round and keeping them under control, not just showing up for a few years and then leaving (which I could see end up causing quite the issues within the following years!)!
    I may also ad that I for one am very, very happy to be living in Wyoming! Thanks to our predator control guys for all their hard work! Even the government guys do an ok job here, but my hat goes off to the private guys for their excellent work!

    • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

      Ashley,

      There are few, if any, students of coyote behavior that have more prominence than Dr. Crabtree — many publications. If I can find a list, I will post it.

      You are correct that if you really want a permanent reduction in the number of coyotes in an area that is coyote habitat, killing them must been done all the time, not every five years or when you feel like it. I think the research supports the idea that if your goal is to protect sheep or cow calves, the cost-effective method is to kill those coyote pairs or packs that kill sheep, not to kill every coyote you can. A coyote pack that never kills sheep stands as a bulwark in an area against coyotes moving in that might well kill sheep.

      Coyote populations reach a peak in an area and then remain relatively stable. If the coyotes are abundant but kill few sheep,leave them alone. Indiscriminate killing in the way it is usually done mostly just stirs the predator pot.

      As far as my personal interests go, I am very pleased when a coyote or two moves through where I live. I leave on the edge of Pocatello, but on a fairly populated street. However, just one block west the mountains rise rapidly and it is backcountry. Coyotes wander down into the neighborhood, but not enough in my view. Anyway, a lone coyote this summer has cleaned out all the damned feral domestic cats and those owned cats that people let run (except one very smart survivor stray cat). The coyote seems to have moved on, but I am pleased it took out the cats.

      • avatar Ida Lupine says:

        I love to see them also. Actually I hear them more than see them. Needless to say, I have a pet that I keep indoors!

      • avatar Ashley says:

        Ralph, Read my comment below regarding costs please. The “cost-effective” method you refer to only makes an attempt to “fix” the “problem” after the problem has already happened. So at that point who knows what kind of losses the rancher/sheepman has already had! The cost-effective method in my opinion will always be to stay on top of the population as I’ve already mentioned. I’ve seen it work and know it works (obviously you haven’t or we wouldn’t be having this discussion), don’t get brainwashed by the “book” research and the “feelings” you have, that’s going to get you nowhere good fast.
        I’m not sure I agree with your “peak” population comment. Once the population “peaks” the only reasons I can see that it might remain “stable” would be due to mange and dispersal.

        • avatar Salle says:

          Ashley, how about the livestock producers actually creating a “presence” among the livestock rather than killing the wildlife, which was there first? Negative action begets negative action/response whether it is with regard to a wildlife population or otherwise.

          You complain about cost to the “rancher” with regard to protecting their livestock… I call it the cost of doing business raising domestic creatures in a wild environment. If it’s too much, let the “market” decide. Reassigning this cost of doing business to the taxpayers is not appropriate and should not be tolerated by the taxpayers or the market. If you have “feelings” about that, so be it. What’s right and what’s fair are what they are, if it’s just too much for the livestock producer, maybe they should do what many Americans have to do, get a new skill set and get a real job… isn’t that the comment the rest of us get when our skills become inadequate for the market?

          FYI, many of us are fully aware of what goes on within research activities and what ranchers do regardless of where we happen to reside at the moment.

          Stop killing our wildlife, especially on public land, thank you very much.

    • avatar Louise Kane says:

      Ashley
      it sounds like you like in the right place, your thinking is right in line with the way that predators are being managed in Wyoming, kill as many as you can as fast as you can. Maybe you want to read a bit about coyotes before you jump on the kill them coyotes train and speak so casually about “actively harvesting coyotes year-round and keeping them under control, not just showing up for a few years and then leaving (which I could see end up causing quite the issues within the following years!)! “

      • avatar Ashley says:

        Louise, as it is so obvious by reading through this article and comments, “reading” about coyotes is only part of the equation. If you really want to know what they are, how they work, etc then go out and deal with them physically in their environment and see what the sheepmen actually deal with. Being book smart and actually having the hands on experience are not the same thing.

        • avatar Jay says:

          Most wildlife researchers spend far more time up close and personal with their research animals than a cattle/sheepman whose primary interaction is looking down the barrel of a rifle.

          • avatar Ashley says:

            Lol…oh Jay you are too far out of the loop on what ranchers and sheepmen do. It really does just make me laugh when I read things like this. People can be so clueless…it’s like people see or hear of one rancher shooting a coyote and instantly that is what they all must do, all the time…really? You’ve got be joking! I can probably count on one hand maybe two how many times most ranchers/sheepmen even take a shot at a coyote in a year!

            • avatar Jay says:

              You really think highly of yourself, don’t you? You’d be surprised as what folks on this site know about the livestock industry. On the other hand, it’s obvious you have no clue about what wildlife research involves, as indicated by your comments about how Crabtree obtains his data. You belittle “our” knowledge but clearly have no knowledge of what goes into wildlife research. Perhaps you’re the one that needs a little educating?

            • avatar Ashley says:

              Jay, my advice is always to get out there and see first hand what those who deal with the “research”, coyotes in this case, have to go through and deal with. Tell me Jay, what do you know about the livestock industry? Well from what I have read and hear, people are saying it has more to do with studying using books than anything else! Books only get you so far! I cannot (obviously) stress that enough. You don’t have to have a PhD (or degree of any kind for that matter) to know how wildlife works. I mean how did humans survive so many years with out PhD’s and degrees?! lol. Will you learn some by studying coyotes in books, yes and you will also learn some things you won’t in books by having field experience, but having a PhD does NOT ever mean you know everything about anything!
              I don’t know how he obtains his data (didn’t I make that clear enough above??), if you would so kindly tell me where I could find the info or point me in the correct location then I can once again decide how “accurate” I believe his data is. It still sounds more like an “in a perfect world” theory…which is fine IF we lived in a perfect world.
              There are times when I wish I would have went into wildlife biology, but obviously working for the government and/or liberal lefties is not my way of thinking or working :D

            • avatar Jay says:

              “I don’t know how he obtains his data (didn’t I make that clear enough above??), if you would so kindly tell me where I could find the info or point me in the correct location then I can once again decide how “accurate” I believe his data is.”

              Here’s a crazy idea: you might try reading his papers, which describes in detail the specifics. Which begs the question, since you don’t have a clue as to the particulars of his research, what makes you qualified to critique it?

              “Jay, my advice is always to get out there and see first hand what those who deal with the “research”, coyotes in this case, have to go through and deal with. Tell me Jay, what do you know about the livestock industry?”

              I’m not the one that came here refuting scientific research, so on the contrary, why don’t you enlighten us with your acumen? since you’ve learned so much about coyotes by “living with them”, perhaps you can give us all the basics of coyote biology: population dynamics and the interaction/influence of demographic variables, food habits, social structure, etc.? Clearly you have accumulated a vast library of knowledge on these subjects, right?

              “There are times when I wish I would have went into wildlife biology, but obviously working for the government and/or liberal lefties is not my way of thinking or working”

              Again, you demonstrate your ignorance–no, wildlife research is not the exclusive domain of big, bad GOVERNMENT!!!!! (oh my). You might be somewhat correct in that a disproportionate number of wildlife researchers are left-thinking (although I have no data to back that up, so just my opinion), but I suspect that’s because they have the critical thinking skills necessary to question and test their theories, and accept them when they’re wrong–unlike conservatives, who are always right, so why bother studying something to learn more, right?

  9. avatar Ashley says:

    Also…IF he is basing his studies off of government “findings” (i.e. Wildlife Services predator control agents’ kill reports) there is a very good chance that those numbers are inflated to some extent.
    One of the other things to consider also is that the expensive side of the numbers you all are seeing are probably due to the extensive air-time these guys have! They are trying to use airplanes in some cases where they are not as efficient as a ground man trapping or calling would be. When they are aerial gunning they also rarely pick up coyotes therefore their “kills” are rarely confirmed…meaning they could be “killing” the same coyote 5 times or more and not even knowing it! That is where you’ll get your inflated numbers. I don’t blame this guys for not picking them up as there is no incentive for them to do that as they can’t legally keep them to sell anyways (something I think the government should consider changing! Reducing their pay during winter time and/or allowing them to pick up and sell fur during the winter months would help put “your” tax money to “better” use elsewhere).
    Another thing to consider is these guys are not hired to manage coyote populations but rather come running when someone calls in an issue with a predator and they take care of the “problem”, this is why I’m thinking Dr. Crabtree is basing his research off of government predator control programs and not private predator control programs (or county programs). Your private guys have more of an incentive to “prove” their worth and keep ranchers happy.
    And yes while “your” tax money is going towards helping protect livestock and sheep so is the rancher’s tax money and a fee (s)he pays every time they sell cattle/sheep.
    And yes, beef may not be the “healthiest” form of protein…HOWEVER, I am a firm believer that almost anything you eat, as long as eaten, in moderation or with exercise will NOT kill or hurt you and is indeed healthy! Our problem is that society today tends to allow people to be lazier, easier than it has 100 years ago!
    Lastly…as someone mentioned earlier…it does sound like someone on the anti-ag (for lack of better terminology) side hired this guy to write up this report…

    • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

      Ashley,

      Dr. Crabtree is not a Wildlife Services guy or in private predator control. He more interested in pure coyote research rather than applied research

      • avatar Ashley says:

        Ralph, I never one stated I thought he was a WS or did predator control of any kind. I was simply trying to figure out what he was basing his studies off of. If all he is studying is books (if that is what you call “pure” research anyway…) then that is horribly flawed! Books are more of a “perfect world” scenario than real life and well let’s face it we do NOT live in a perfect world! Kind of like with the whole wolf thing…in theory and if we lived in a perfect world it was a great idea, but that’s all it has proven to be as in the real world it is also horribly flawed…however, that discussion is for another day and another time…

        • avatar Leslie says:

          Ashley, I’m curious what other methods are you using to protect your flock or herd. I’m assuming you have sheep.

          • avatar Ashley says:

            Haha, no I don’t have sheep. We did when I was a kid growing up. We sold all of our sheep a long time ago though, probably in part due to coyote losses and other reasons I’m sure too. But, if I had sheep you can bet that they’d have one of the best coyote control programs! I’d even consider either a guard dog or two or llamas (not sure yet just how much good they really do) or even having someone live with the herd. Sometimes those guard dogs can do more damage than coyotes though too, so you have to be careful…at least with llamas you don’t have to worry about them eating your sheep! lol. And sometimes those coyotes are ballsy enough to come in while there is a sheepherder right there with them and still kill sheep…

            • avatar Ashley says:

              And where I live I know plenty of sheepmen and know what they go through with owning sheep :) Do you own sheep Leslie??

  10. avatar Leslie says:

    Ashley said “I may also ad that I for one am very, very happy to be living in Wyoming! Thanks to our predator control guys for all their hard work! Even the government guys do an ok job here, but my hat goes off to the private guys for their excellent work!”

    Thought you were a rancher from your statement above.

    • avatar Ashley says:

      I grew up on a ranch and happen to know the guys who do predator control in our area :) So I see the results all the time :) And my hat still goes off to them, and always will, for their hard work :) whether I have cattle/sheep or whether it is my neighbors’ cattle/sheep that are being protected from predators :) And if I had my way I would own a ranch and run cattle, a few sheep, and some horses and would have one of the best predator control programs out there to help keep them safe.

    • avatar Mark L says:

      I wonder how they knew this was ‘new’ DNA in the coyotes, and not already there historically. Does anybody test coyotes in other areas as a control group, say Indiana or Tennessee or Louisiana?

      • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

        Mark L,

        Black wolves have a gene called beta-defensin. It gives black coat color, but it also belongs to a family of genes believed to be involved in fighting infection.

        See this article in Science Daily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090205142137.htm

        • avatar Mark L says:

          Good stuff there, Ralph, on the beta-defensin.
          The question I was asking was whether anyone already tests coyotes on a regular basis in areas where red wolves/eastern wolves traditionally occurred, and whether they are ‘discovering’ wolf DNA in coyotes that has actually been there for a while, or whether it’s actually ‘new’ introduced DNA. I’m not sure how this could be established without already testing coyotes fairly regularly in a location not exposed to the south-heading hybrids of Virginia…i.e. do we know that ‘phenotypical’ coyotes (or even the wolf-like ones) in say Tennessee or Louisiana don’t already have wolf DNA that is only found through testing (genotype)? Testing the leading edge of a moving hybrid edge would then just confirm that they had wolf DNA, not that it was newly introduced.

  11. avatar Ida Lupine says:

    I live near a sheep farm, and several farms, and I love it, and this particular farmer uses llamas. From what I have seen they do an amazing job watching them. I was walking by one day, heard a distress cry from one of the sheep, and the llama was on its feet in seconds, rounding them together, almost mentally calculating it seemed. Great job. We don’t have wolves, but we do have coyotes, and rarely black bears.

    • avatar Ida Lupine says:

      But admittedly our farms here in the East are much, much smaller than out West.

      • avatar Ashley says:

        Thanks for sharing Ida! I’m glad there is success out east with using llamas. I do wonder with the large pastures and large herds how well they would do out here…maybe if they had xx amount of llamas per xx amount of sheep it could work? Are llamas herd animals, as in do they stay with their own “kind” or will they scatter out if the herd is scattered? It would be an interesting research project to do out here in WY :D

        • avatar Leslie says:

          If I had the land and the money, I’d raise bison. I love to eat lamb though, and wonder how bison might do with sheep. Bison are pretty formidable opponents for predators.

          Mules do a good job up this way in a herd of cattle to ward off wolves. I’ve seen llamas mixed in with sheep driving up through Bridger, MT. Seems like a good plan, plus you can use the llamas as a pack animal.

  12. avatar Mark L says:

    If you want to use a llama as a pack animal, you need to start it off early in it’s life. They are creatures of habit. The males can be unbelievably brutal when they fight (i.e. Biting each others privates to prevent breeding, gut kicks, etc) but they are loyal to a group, no doubt. I don’t know much about wolf interaction, but even larger dogs and coyotes stay off them…they have an odd confidence when they approach, kind of like a cat moving towards a large dog instead of away…has to be unnerving to a canid smaller than the llama.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey