Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for


Date of this Version

October 2004


Published in Sheep & Goat Research Journal 19 (2004). Copyright © 2004 The American Sheep Industry Association. Used by permission.


The populations of coyotes (Canis latrans) have increased dramatically in the eastern United States since the early 1900s (Hilton, 1978; Chambers, 1987; Hill et al., 1987; Witmer and Hayden 1992). The expansion of the coyote range into eastern North America has been summarized by Parker (1995) and characterized as two distinct geographical events: 1) the northern front moving across southern Ontario and the Great Lakes region and 2) the southern front colonizing the southeastern United States from Arkansas and Louisiana. These two fronts expanded throughout the northeastern and southeastern United States during the 1960s and 1970s, finally converging during the mid 1980s in the central Appalachian mountains of Virginia and West Virginia. Upon their arrival, eastern coyotes, like their western counterparts, began killing livestock. There has been concern that coyote depredations in the eastern United States could cause significant impacts on sheep and other livestock industries (Slate, 1987; Witmer and Hayden, 1992; Witmer et al., 1995). Other authors have suggested that coyote predation is an important contributing factor in the decline of the American sheep industry (Terrill, 1986; Hilton, 1992).

Coyote depredations on livestock in the eastern United States have been documented by several authors (Witmer and Hayden, 1992; Witmer et al., 1995; Tomsa and Forbes, 1989). The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) completed surveys of “Sheep and Goat Predator Loss” during the years 1990, 1994, and 1999. Similar surveys of “Cattle Predator Loss” were made in 1991, 1995, and 2000. These nationwide surveys were completed during the final phases of coyote range expansion in the eastern United States and as coyote depredations in the east began to increase. During the 1990s, the USDA APHIS Wildlife Services (WS) programs in Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio initiated programs designed to assist producers experiencing livestock depredations by coyotes. The WS program documents livestock losses, requests for assistance, and management activities through its Management Information System (MIS). WS uses the MIS system to produce annual reports on coyote depredation management activities. The NASS surveys and WS reports have not been analyzed on a regional basis or in the context of the range expansion of the coyote in the eastern United States. This paper reviews these data and examines the effectiveness of WS programs aimed at managing coyote depredation on livestock in the eastern United States.