Now, before some of you get your panties in a bunch and say how ‘cruel’ this is, you have to remember, coyotes are pests and they cost farmers’ and ranchers’ alot of money. Coyotes reportedly kill more than 300,000 head of livestock annually and injure even more. Once a coyote learns that young livestock are easy prey, depredation can become a problem.
Coyotes are presently the most abundant livestock predators in western North America, causing the majority of sheep, goat, and cattle losses. For example, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, coyotes were responsible for 60.5% of the 224,000 sheep deaths attributed to predation in 2004.
The total number of sheep deaths in 2004 comprised 2.22% of the total sheep and lamb population in the United States, which, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service USDA report, totaled 4.66 million and 7.80 million heads respectively as of July 1, 2005. Because coyote populations are typically many times greater and more widely distributed than those of wolves, coyotes cause more overall predation losses.
The United States government agents routinely shoot, poison, trap, and kill about 90,000 coyotes each year to protect livestock. Coyotes typically bite the throat just behind the jaw and below the ear when attacking adult sheep or goats, with death commonly resulting from suffocation. Blood loss is usually a secondary cause of death. Calves and heavily fleeced sheep are killed by attacking the flanks or hindquarters, causing shock and blood loss.
When attacking smaller prey, such as young lambs, the kill is made by biting the skull and spinal regions, causing massive tissue and bone damage. Small or young prey may be completely carried off, leaving only blood as evidence of a kill. In the absence of hunting pressure on coyotes practiced by rural people, urban coyotes are losing their fear of humans, which is further worsened by people intentionally or unintentionally feeding coyotes.
In such situations, some coyotes have begun to act aggressively toward humans, chasing joggers and bicyclists, confronting people walking their dogs, and stalking small children. Non-rabid coyotes in these areas sometimes target small children, mostly under the age of 10, though some adults have been bitten.
Now that you know just how much damage these critters can do and if you still feel it’s wrong to kill them, you just might want to click off of this article and go check-out National Geographic, or some other website.