Coyote killing jumps in Wyoming: Infusion of WY state funding leads to record killing by federal agents






  1. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    “…a $6 million, two-year boost in state funding for predator control programs…”

    “…Wildlife Services agents gunned down, snared, trapped and poisoned 10,914 coyotes in Wyoming. It was the highest take yet recorded…”

    “…federal hunters in fiscal year 2007 killed 61 percent more coyotes…”

    “Wildlife Services added about 20 people to its statewide force following the funding increase, and now 40 to 45 in-the-field agents are working in Wyoming…”

    Well, the evidence is finally in: the decades old coyote slaughter programs in Wyoming have been proven to be so damn effective that, in the near future, victory in the war against the useless varmint will finally be declared.

    Human war casualties, consisting mostly of Wildlife Service agents dying in airplane crashes while trying to destroy wily coyotes, one of many enemies of livestock producers, will be totaled after victory is declared.

    The monetary expenditure of the war against the wily coyote is not expected to approach that of the Iraq war.

    However, some livestock producers are dubious that the war against the varmint is near and maintain that the coyote war must be maintained throughout eternity.

    Conservationists disagree.

    Mack P. Bray
    Wildlife Watchers

  2. Ryan Avatar


    Some conservationist disagree.

  3. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Damn, Ryan, I’m glad to know you’ve identified the conservationists that disagree.

    How did you do accomplish this feat?

    Mack P. Bray
    Wildlife Watchers

  4. Jon Way Avatar

    This is a pathetic disgrace of how certain users can abuse our nation’s wildlife. How can something like this possibly get more money when every other line budget item seems to be decreasing?

  5. Jay Avatar

    Johnny Flip-Flop McBushCain would eliminate grizzly inventory/research dollars if he were president, and likely give these assassins every cent they ask for, and then some. Hmmm, I wonder who I’m going to vote for…

  6. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Jon and Jay,

    The reason for the big jump in dollars for Wildlife Services in Wyoming is because the state itself is rolling in oil and gas money and the Wyoming Legislature appropriated $6 million for predator control.

    These are not federal monies. It does show how Wildlife Service might as well be a state agency, or maybe even a private company paid for, however, by state and federal taxpayers.

  7. Jay Avatar

    True, but despite that, much of their funding is federal, being that they are a divising of the USDA. Those airplanes they fly around in blasting wolves and coyotes? Bought and paid for by you and me…

  8. steve c Avatar
    steve c

    I wonder if any of this filth would hunt their own dog…

  9. SmokyMtMan Avatar

    This wanton slaughter of coyotes is despicable and shameful. I truly wish that program’s budget was dropped to $0 and abolished.

    Predator “control” should be abolished completely in every state. I would have hoped we would have moved beyond this senseless slaughter of wildlife, we have already inflicted so much damage to our nation’s wildlife through these destructive and often indiscriminate programs.

  10. Jon Way Avatar

    I agree with you, SmokyMtMan… Let ranchers handle it privately if they occasionally have a problem.

  11. SmokyMtMan Avatar

    Exactly, Jon.

    This issue falls under the rancher’s responsibility, like any other business expense. As a consumer, if that translates into a small (and any increase would almost certainly be very small, indeed) increase in the cost of the meat or product, I will gladly pay it.

    I would be very happy indeed paying that cost on the retail side, than pay at my tax money’s expense on the state government side. Because as it is, our tax money funds this slaughter, which often hurts other wildlife and needlessly kills many animals that wouldn’t have posed a problem anyway.

    If we are going to pay the cost ourselves, why do it through the state agency’s slaughter programs, and instead just pay a little extra for the rancher’s product?

    It’s the same cost, yet they wouldn’t be running around the countryside killing everything that moves.

  12. Jon Way Avatar

    Again, I agree with you Smoky, and since I don’t eat beef/cow that would be like “saving 2 birds with 1 hand” for me to know that it isn’t coming out of my taxes as well!

  13. Ice Avatar

    Is “wildlife services” any less effective under the democratic party? I personally don’t think Obama is going to “change” anything for the better.

  14. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    This really depends on who gets appointed to USDA, plus the makeup of the congressional committees.

    This agency has survived in one form or another for 90 years, so it is hard to be optimistic. However, the reason it survives is that its support, while narrow, is deep.

    Opposition is scattered and not constant.

  15. John Avatar

    Coyotes are there for a good reason.
    Plague proportion rodents do not make for a happy harvest.

  16. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    There have been a lot of coyotes because there is a lot for them to eat, and domestic sheep are just a tiny fraction of what they eat.

    John, you’re maybe right. What happens when a major predator of rodents largely disappears? Well maybe predatory birds and foxes will take up the slack after a couple years.

    Wyoming is already a good place to catch hantavirus, and probably a third of the deer mice are infected.

  17. natehobbs Avatar

    To me the Coyote is like the forgotten wolf, it isn’t iconic enough to draw in huge public support, it really isnt endangered in any way (yet) to draw federal concern.

    So its plight for being average is to be killed in the thousands, can anyone provide information as to what proportion of its population are killed yearly?

    Another huge factor of there population is how many senseless killings take place in the name of merciless ‘fun’, I often hear of school mates chase them with snowmobiles, shoot them for kicks, hit them with there monster trucks whatever…than the same idiots wonder why there are so many rodents out in the BLM lands north of the sand dunes. Last time I was out there it seemed like every 15 seconds we would see a mouse or two dart across the road, who knows how many we hit that night.

    Ive never seen a coyote outside of a National park…ever.

  18. Ice Avatar

    Thanks Ralph, thats what I thought. I get tired of the Bush administration being blamed for everything wrong in this world. Yea, I disagree with their environmental agenda but do the democrats really do any better? I don’t think so. Al Gore talks a lot about the environment after reaching his destination in his private jet…

  19. Ice Avatar

    Natehobbs, I agree, I’ve seen and heard stories about guys shooting them just for “fun”, running them over with snowmobiles, etc. These guys justify this senseless killing by continuing to believe in ignorant folklore and it seems to be the “macho” thing to do.

  20. mikarooni Avatar

    I have a lot of personal experience with coyotes and their role on rangelands, with ranchers and relationship to APHIS (I can’t force myself to call them “wildlife services”), and with APHIS.

    With regard to coyotes, I don’t worry about their survival too much; they are extremely adaptable and very competent at what they need to do to stay around. If you haven’t seen one outside a national park, then I would suspect you 1) live in an urban area, 2) don’t venture very far off roads, or 3) don’t stop and sit quietly or long enough with a pair of binoculars. I have a water tower tucked into the trees up on a ridge and the tower sits on a massively thick concrete base (cool in summer and warm in winter). In the evenings, I like to sit on that concrete with a pair of 10X Leupolds and just glass the valley. Despite the fact that every other rancher for a hundred miles in any direction shoots every coyote on sight, most evenings, I’ll spot one or more strange logs or pieces of downed timber, always out beyond 300 yards, and I’ve learned to just watch those pieces of wood until their ears move. There’s a lot of coyotes around. I don’t think individuals with guns will ever threaten the species; what worries me are the traps and poisons and those are the APHIS stock and trade. Both the traps and the poisons just sit out there, effectively forever, waiting to do their thing and they’re genuine dangers to both the coyotes in an area and to everything else. I believe that, if you want to focus energy efficiently on getting the best environmental outcome, don’t waste it on the idiots with the guns, go after the use of traps and poisons and on APHIS itself.

    As has been pointed out above, the irony is that, without coyotes, the ranchers end up with a bigger real problem in the form of more rabbits and other stuff and that other stuff carries disease, which is why I don’t shoot coyotes.

    You also might want to understand some of the relationship between some of the bigger ranchers, their political support, the “culls” in their own families, and APHIS. These bigger ranchers have the money to have big families; a lot of them do; and that means that a lot of them end up with a ne’er-do-well idiot son or two. So, in rough chronological order, 1) political support goes to a slimy rightwing politician; 2) there is a flurry of spurious livestock depredation complaints from a specific area; 3) an exorbitant amount of tax money suddenly goes to APHIS; 4) APHIS hires an idiot son or two to keep them from laying on the couch all day and getting into trouble at night; 5) a lot of tax money gets spent in the local area on gas and tires and food and supplies for the APHIS crew, much of it spent at businesses owned by relatives; and 5) a few coyotes, some other wildlife, some local dogs, and rarely a kid on a hike gets trapped or poisoned.

    I honestly believe that wild animals can occasionally cause problems and that there should be some source of public expertise and capability to help deal with it; but, APHIS, as it currently exists, isn’t it. APHIS, as a whole, is a very secretive and genuinely defiant agency and I believe that it is its need to cover its corruption that makes it so. They are maliciously compliant, if they comply at all, with NEPA; you can’t get accurate information on their “bycatch” of “nontarget” species; you can’t easily get information on their use and placement of traps and poisons; and you sure can’t easily track their hiring/firing or procurement practices or any potential conflicts of interest therein. I don’t think a dead coyote every once in a while is going to be the end of the species; but, I sure don’t like that agency, its practices, or, most of all, its attitude.

  21. Virginia Avatar

    I have to take issue with the statement “I don’t think a dead coyote every once in a while is going to be the end of the species…” I have a hard time agreeing that the killing of 10,914 coyotes in the state of Wyoming is a “dead coyote every once in a while.”

  22. mikarooni Avatar

    No, you’re right; 10,914 in one state and one year is too many and this pace of slaughter is surely hitting the Wyoming population hard. I did not mean to imply that this kind of carnage is acceptable, but merely to reinforce the fact that coyotes, as a species, are resilient and the removal of an occasional problem animal would not significantly impact the species as a whole. What APHIS does is not the removal of an occasional problem animal, but indiscriminate slaughter on an industrial scale.

  23. Jon Way Avatar

    I truly believe there is a need for a National Canid Protection Act especially on our public lands so this wantom slaughter doesn’t continue to occur in the future. There is no need for it and should be illegal:

  24. Robert Avatar

    Maybe someone should wake these people up to what caused the plague in the Dark Ages–fear of were-wolfs and witch’s caused wolfs and cats to be killed by the thousands–resulting in the over population of rodents which carried the plague people died by the millions—history has a habit of repeating itself when man disregards the balance of nature—There is already an increase in rodents along highway rightways notice increase of snake crossing highways. Cattle carcasses lay for weeks at places wiithout being touched by coyotes. Of the 3% of cattle/calf losses in 1995 only 2.7 % was attributed to predators thats one in 1,000 life animals at a cost of 10.8 million a high price for a animals whose main die is rodents and dead carcasses. In my 40 years as a rancher I have never seen a coyote kill a cow or calf (many attribute deaths of calves born in freezing weather in the winter to coyotes. The majority never stood and sucked if you calf out of tune with natures cycle you are going to find coyotes cleaning up after man’s stupidity. There are a few gun happy fools who would have you believe a coyote could pull down a elephant!!!!

  25. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Your comment about the already apparent increase in rodents is quite interesting.

  26. JB Avatar

    It is indeed interesting, but I don’t think we’ve any chance of eliminating coyotes. We’ve (our society, not me personally) been trying for over 100 years and they keep expanding their territory. They’re are now coyotes in many urban areas (that’s urban, not suburban) in the U.S. I saw a presentation recently showing pack territories in the Chicago area; it is absolutely amazing that coyotes can persist in areas where the majority of the surfaces are paved living mostly off of rodents, garbage, and feral animals.

    At any rate, I agree with the general sentiment here. Paying a government agency to shoot coyotes for the ranching industry is a wanton waste of taxpayer dollars, and coyote killing contests (such as those held by SFW) are–in my opinion–make a mockery out of hunting and conservation. Anyone interested in what these so-called “contests” look like should pick up the documentary called “Killing Coyote”.


    PS- I should mention that I am a firm advocate of the research wing of wildlife services and even support control of “nuisance” wildlife under conditions where they pose a significant risk to human health and safety, or when they do sustained damage to private property. The prophylactic killing of coyotes to subsidize ranching does not fall into either category.

  27. Peter Kiermeir Avatar
    Peter Kiermeir

    Out of curiosity I googled “Coyote killing contest”. Hey, nearly a million hits! Montana, Utah, Wyoming – as always – feature prominently but it seems a phenomena all over the US. Sierra Club even has a feature about what happens when you oppose these contests: “Too grisly to print” according to the Monday March 6 edition of the Daily Messenger. We acquired a copy of the subject photograph. It shows a coyote skinned and left in the driveway of someone who had the nerve to speak out against the Coyote Killing Contest…….. “

  28. JB Avatar

    FYI: Here’s a link to the trailer on YouTube:

    The comments that follow are especially enlightening. They paint a…vivid picture the type of people that like to engage in these activities.

  29. JB Avatar

    …and here’s the link to the documentary’s website, for anyone interested:

  30. Robert Avatar

    JB—Coyotes are moving into urban and suburban even crossing the Mississippi because they are fighting to survive most of the grasslands in the US are grazed so short they cannot find cover so they seek cover in towns and forest out of there natural habitat—just as mice are seeking cover along highway rightways away from hawks–a coyote doesn’t stand a chance along a road—-what happens when we kill off all the snakes along highways because of use of weed spray—were on our way to a rodent problem— a vicious cycle has begun and it may come back to bite us!!!!!

  31. kt Avatar

    And how much of this Wyoming coyote killing is aimed at keeping Wildlife Services in the air, on the ground in ATVs setting traps galore – to chalk up air miles keeping tabs on where wolves are, and also to kill predators in the vain hope of bumping up sage grouse #s to try to prevent ESA listing?

    I think, besides the Cheneyesque (oil and gas money …) thrill these WS fellows take in blood-letting of all kind in the last gory days of the Bush Admin., there are OTHER things going on here than meet the eye.

    And Jon Way – I liked your Web-page about a Canid Protection Society.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan