Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sheep farming and coyotes

An article by the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada, Too Much Wildlife, suggests that
extermination of culprits, through provincially legislated cull programs is a legitimate option after all other preventative measures have failed

The problem with this is that most cull programs don't necessarily target the culprits, but aim for a more general population reduction. But they do go onto say that
many organic and conventional sheep producers feel that practicing an array of preventative practices, including the use of appropriate fencing, guard animals and frequent visits to the pasture will "train" the local coyote population to avoid the flock and feed, instead, on wild prey.  In fact, numerous farmers feel that, far from reducing coyote populations, the largely ineffectual bounty programs only serve to eradicate a trained group of coyotes that will be replaced by a group that must be re-trained, at the producer’s expense.
A study in California on the behaviour of coyotes in areas where sheep are grazed on open range has shown that coyotes did not avoid each other in areas where sheep were concentrated. This might explain some of the instances of high densities of coyotes that are sometimes reported if they are near sources of plentiful and easily accessible prey.

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