Date of this Version
A survey was conducted by the New Mexico Department of Agriculture in early 1984 to determine costs incurred by livestock producers to control predation on livestock during 1983. Out of a sample of 1,848 producers who were sent questionnaires, 706 (38%) usable responses were returned. The respondents reported having about 30% of the peak number of sheep and lambs and 19% of the peak number of range beef cattle and calves, respectively, estimated to have been in New Mexico in 1983. Total cost reported by 306 respondents who had costs, not including donations to the New Mexico cooperative Animal Damage Control program, was about $450,000. Trapping (including the use of traps, snares, and M-44 devices) accounted for 38%, coyote drives 15%, "other nonlethal" methods 14% (including predator-resistant fences, night penning, shed lambing, etc.), and aerial gunning 12% of total cost. Sight or trail dogs accounted for 5%, ground shooting 1%, guard dogs 5%, sheepherders 7%, and miscellaneous costs (generally included labor and vehicle or horse expenses to check for predator sign and kills) 2% of total reported costs. Lethal methods comprised 72% and nonlethal methods 26% of the total cost. Sixty-seven percent of the sheep producers who had costs for predator control reported spending money on one or more nonlethal methods; of these, 29% spent money on guard dogs, 22% on herders, and 52% on "other nonlethal" methods. A generalized approximation of the total costs incurred by livestock producers in New Mexico in 1983, based on the survey results plus private contributions to the New Mexico cooperative Animal Damage Control program, was $1.8 million. Adding this estimate to the total estimated value of sheep and cattle lost to predation brought the total economic impact of predation on the livestock industry in New Mexico in 1983 to $5.3 million. The data suggested private predator control costs are approximately one-third of the economic impact of predation on livestock producers.