That was then, this is now

Predators kill livestock, Coyotes represent the largest population of predators. Solution- eliminate the largest population of predators (Coyotes). Most if not all of the material represented here is available through various global wild life records. In addition to those records and on a similar vane, Conservation Officers owe their history to the mid-evil Game Wardens employed by private land owners. Record keeping of both domestic and wild life activities began with these folks and in some form or another continues today through various and multiple governmental agencies through out the world. A side note here- New Mexico (NM) late 1969: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and probably highly motivated by NM Ranchers & Farmers, was paying a $25.00 bounty on the head of each Coyote.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s Coyote populations, along with other predators were increasing with the number of livestock available. Anyone working in agriculture knew there had to be a way to manage livestock predation (killings). The original predator control was a spring loaded steel leg trap commonly referred to as a “bear trap.”

Overkill at the very minimum
Overkill at the very minimum

However, the “bear trap” was indiscriminate. It caught everything including unsuspecting humans. Additionally, the “bear trap” maimed when tripped resulting in tremendous pain and extreme mental anxiety. If the trapped animal didn’t die from shock it would endeavor to free itself only to incur further injury which inevitably produced death. That trap lost popularity for obvious reasons though a padded version with tabs of pain dulling drug was introduced in an effort for a humane solution. Personal observation: Whiskey (lots of it) would have been my preferred pain killer! In this case an animal gets trapped and attempts to gnaw at the holding jaws only to be sedated. Several problems arise from this method of predator control. When mechanically trapped, animals tend to bite at the restraining mechanism which produces mouth tissue and dental damage. The padded trap does reduce initial sever injury but once sedation begins the restrained animal is now defenseless and can be attacked by other predators including its own kind. Additionally, sedated animals loose their ability to govern their body temperatures and can then die by exposure.

Another predator control mechanism called The Livestock Protection Collar (collar) works well but the thing is a bit pricey meaning only a few livestock wear one.

Predator Control Device
Predator Control Device

Even though the “collar” works, its location around the neck of the protected animal still allows killing injuries. Another problem with the “collar” is that after scavengers eat the deceased predator’s carcass the predator’s tainted body then kills the scavenger.

Finally, a device called the M44 uses a cyanide proponent designed to convert to hydrogen cyanide gas on contact with the predator’s moist mouth and throat.

M44 M44 diagram


This device is driven below ground level, loaded with the cyanide proponent then topped with bait. The M44 is activated as the Coyote attempts to tug and pull the bait up.   This delivery method restricts the toxin to the predator’s lungs, rarely if ever entering the blood stream meaning that scavengers would be less likely to be harmed. The padded trap with its tabs, the collar and the M44 are all highly regulated! The M44 requires a high level authorization by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and extreme levels of monitoring make it expensive to use and maintain. While trapping for food and pelts attained their goals, predator controls using trapping have a poor history!

All through history the most effective, least painful and longest lasting predator controls are selective harvesting. Believe it or not, barnstorming pilots used to shoot Coyotes in the 1920s between shows. Back to 1969- some of the guys returning from Vietnam who flew helicopters suddenly discovered a way to maintain their pilot’s certification. The BLM contracted helicopter crews to focus on Coyote elimination but economic restrictions soon put an end to that predator control mechanism. Livestock predators do not concern themselves with economics, only the need for bountiful food supplies.

Most states in the U.S have mandatory hunting licenses, typically the fees charged for those licenses do not cover the operational expenses of the issuing agencies. All most all of the states have to augment their fish and games agencies suggesting voters do have input in to how those agencies operate. Hunting regulations set forth parameters for the different species and their hunting seasons. Regulations provide for hunting times to start at sunup and end at sundown. Other regulations restrict hunting near highways and residential structures.

An interesting loop hole- several species are not regulated and depending on the state, Coyotes often fall into that category. In as much as hunting / shooting Coyotes is not regulated the common custom of the day is to shoot them on sight. The Coyotes are after all, the most populist predator. Coyote hunting contests have been around a long time. Originally a bunch of ranchers or farmers would get together in an effort to reduce predation pressure on their combined livestock and see who was the best shot (largest collector of coyote carcasses). It was an occasion to get together with friends, have a meal and catch up on news of the world and the community. The Coyote contests have drawn attention to what some would call the wanton slaying of an animal. Tell that to the rancher or farmer who witnesses a calf or kid being pulled from its mother by a hungry Coyote. The State of New Mexico’s legislative session will consider a bill that outlaws Coyote Hunting Contests. A law banning Coyote hunting may be tough to get enacted in the state. New Mexico’s primary private industry is based on oil & gas but that land also covers a lot of farm and ranches. The following link is provided only for a reference as to which states may pay bounties on Coyotes. It is not all inclusive but gives the reader an ideal of what to look for in their own states. The codes for what the states permit is found at the bottom of the web page.

The hunting contests have grown from a well intentioned effort to protect livestock into a commercial event with prizes for the most Coyotes killed or the largest taken.

How about you? Should we protect livestock or wildlife or both? If you would like to leave a comment please do so in the comments area. In the mean time – stay tuned there is more to come on the Coyote Cam