Date of this Version
The National Agricultural Statistics Service surveyed by telephone and mail in January and February 1997 all known producers of channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus to acquire current information about wildlife-caused losses in calendar year 1996. Many producers tried to prevent wildlife-caused losses of their catfish by shooting (57%), vehicle patrol (55%), or frightening (36%), at an estimated cost of >$5 million. Yet, 69% of catfish produces cited some wildlife-caused losses. Birds were most frequently cited as a cause of losses, and double-crested cormorants Phalacrocorax auritus was the species cited most frequently (53%). The next most frequently cited bids were herons Ardea spp. (48%), egrets Egretta spp. (16%), and pelicans Pelecanus spp. (8%). Muskrats Ondatra zibethicus were cited by 10% of producers, primarily for damaging dikes and roads. The main problems caused by wildlife were feeding on catfish (67%), injuring catfish (40%) or disturbing feeding patterns of the catfish (23%). The total estimated cost of losses was $12 million. Overall, wildlife damage and damage prevention may have cost catfish producers >$17 million, about 4% of the total $425 million of catfish sales in 1996. Of the 44% of all catfish producers who were familiar with Wildlife Services (WS), 51% had ever contacted WS for assistance, 55% used methods suggested by WS to reduce their losses, and 40% received direct assistance from WS in 1996. Mississippi producers, who most frequently received direct assistance from WS, had proportionately lower wildlife- caused losses.