Advice from Brent Patterson of the Wildlife Research and Monitoring Section for the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources, and Forestry provides advice to farmers to protect their livestock from coyotes looking for easy prey.
By Andrew Joseph, Farms.com; Photo by Dylan Ferreira on Unsplash
Farmers are aware that coyotes can provide a major problem for their livestock—heck, even urban folk have an inkling after watching the wily coyote-look-a-like wolf try to steal sheep in the old Bugs Bunny cartoons.
While a sheepdog might help, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) and Ontario Sheep Farmers—which represents all aspects of the sheep, lamb and wool industry in the province—hosted a Coyote Information Session to provide some usable advice on how to deal—or rather how to not deal—with coyotes.
The Coyote Information Session was held on April 12, 2022, with the two groups joined by Brent Patterson, Senior Research Scientist, Wildlife Research and Monitoring Section for the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources, and Forestry.
Patterson is currently focusing his research on the population dynamics of wolves, coyotes, and their prey in temperate and boreal regions. He has published extensively on wolves, coyotes, caribou, and moose in Ontario and beyond.
During the session, Patterson explained the ecology of coyotes, providing an overview of the research he and his team have conducted in Ontario. He also discussed the problem of livestock depredation by coyotes, provided advice on how to avoid conflict with coyotes, and engaged in a Q&A session afterwards with attendees.
The key takeaways Patterson provided were that coyotes are smart, highly adaptable, and here to stay.
While good or evil, Patterson noted that coyotes are just trying to survive and reproduce—just as all animals want.
He said that coyotes prey on livestock due to energetics. They see livestock as attractive prey because they pose less risk to hunt, and because less energy will be required to get the most amount of calories compared to hunting wildlife. IE – your cooped livestock are the coyote equivalent of our convenience store.
According to Patterson, to foil livestock predation on your farm, farmers must make it appear either more dangerous, more energy expensive, or more difficult for coyotes to prey on farm animals relative to the time and effort required to free-range hunt.
The group noted that steps need to be taken to prevent livestock losses, including non-lethal deterrents.
They explained that because lethal removal has little impact on coyote population density or livestock depredation, the group said to only attempt lethal control when and where necessary.
Because of the intelligence of the coyote, the group state that trapping should be done by highly trained individuals, in a humane and legal manner.
Once educated around a less-effective amateur trap, coyotes can be very difficult to capture. Apparently, the cartoons were correct when they called him Wile E Coyote, super genius.
They explained that non-lethal deterrents must be used during key times of the year, as depredation is mostly attributed to breeding males providing for their mate and pups. Additional, non-lethal deterrents must be used sparingly—and again pointing to the intelligence and likelihood of adapting the group pointed out that these methods would always be short-lived.
And then there’s the fact that not all coyotes are involved in livestock depredation.
If a farmer is not experiencing problems with coyotes and livestock depredation, they are advised to keep those resident coyotes there and healthy. If not, they can be replaced with other coyotes that might choose to hunt your livestock.
Additional information on coyotes can be found on the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry website at https://www.ontario.ca/page/preventing-and-managing-conflicts-coyotes.
To view a recording of the Coyote Information Session, see below: