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.


Research to find more effective and socially acceptable solutions of managing coyote (Canis latrans) depredation has been ongoing for many years. The primary objective is to develop strategies that effectively reduce losses, not simply reduce coyote numbers. An important step in solving such conflicts is to clearly define the problem. In this case, it is important to know which coyotes are most likely to kill sheep and when and where their depredation is greatest. For a control strategy to be effective, it must be appropriate to these three defining characteristics. The hardest of these questions to resolve has been determining if some coyotes are more likely to kill livestock than others and, if so, whether these animals can be relatively more difficult to remove than the others. While the conventional wisdom of trappers supports the existence of particular sheep-killing coyotes, it is another matter to demonstrate that they in fact occur and to explain why.

This paper is a review of our current state of knowledge about the coyotes that kill livestock, particularly sheep, and methods that can be used to target them. The important research findings upon which this is based will be discussed. The main thrust of the paper will deal with a series of studies done in California between 1993 and 2002. These were undertaken jointly by the National Wildlife Research Center (USDA/Wildlife Services) and the University of California at Berkeley. These studies represent the most intensive investigation to date of predation ecology of coyotes in the presence of sheep. In addition, future research needs will be discussed. This review will illustrate the importance of first developing an understanding of the problem before testing methods to alleviate it, that may be inappropriate.