Date of this Version
The average annual reported loss of sheep and lambs to predators in Montana from 1982 through 1986 was 46,000 animals worth $1,980,000. During recent years, coyote predation has been the single most important cause of death for lambs. Coyotes accounted for 80% of the predator kills during 1985 and 72% during 1986, and 8,321 coyotes were killed by ADC during those 2 years. Aerial gunning accounted for more than half of the kills. During the first year of a study on a ranch in western Montana without predator control, coyotes killed 8% of the ewes and 27% of lambs. Predation by golden eagles was exceedingly high on some ranches during 1974 and 1975 after a West-wide crash of jack rabbits. No large-scale eagle predation has been reported since 1975, but the problem is extensive. During 1985, 2,500 lambs were reportedly killed by eagles and 2,000 kills were reported in 1986. Scarecrows have proven of some value in preventing eagle predation, and net gunning from a helicopter could provide quick, but expensive, removal of depredating eagles. However, restrictions on legal control of eagles apparently cause some ranchers to conduct their own control program. Wolves are making a comeback in northwestern Montana. Being classified as an endangered species complicates control. Five cattle and 10 sheep were documented as wolf kills during 1987, and 6 wolves were captured or killed at a cost of about $38,000.