Coyotes can cause a great deal of economic damage and loss on a broad scale. Of course, goat and sheep ranchers can potentially feel this loss the worst. Sheep numbers in the United States have declined about 80% from 1942 to 1976. Former sheep producers reported that the principal reasons for leaving the sheep industry included high predation losses, low lamb and wool prices, a shortage of good hired labor, and the producerâ€™s age.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service (1978) estimated the economic impact of coyote predation on producers with predator problems, on producers without predator problems, and on consumers during 1977. They used an average lamb loss rate of 4% (267,000 lambs) and a ewe loss rate of 1.5% (125,000 ewes) to estimate an economic loss of $19 million to producers from coyote predation in the 17 western states. The reduced number of sheep and lambs resulted in a higher market price, which benefited producers by $6 million. The net impact of coyote predation on sheep producers was a loss of $13 million, and the impact on consumers was $4 million in additional costs. The General Accounting Office (GAO 1990) estimated that coyotes in 17 western states killed sheep and lambs valued at $18 million in 1989. The National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS 1991) reported that sheep and lamb losses to coyotes in the United States were valued at $18.3 million in 1990.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service (1978) reported calf losses between birth and weaning to coyotes across the United States at 0.4%, with predation decreasing to nearly zero by weaning time. Dorrance (1982) reported that coyotes were responsible for 16% of the 1,520 confirmed predation losses of cattle in Alberta from 1974 to 1978. Coyote predation on calves caused producers with coyote problems across the United States to lose an estimated $20 million. However, because of the greater price flexibility of beef compared with sheep, the reduction in the number of beef calves marketed (estimated at 0.4%, or 115,000 fewer calves) resulted in a higher price, which benefited beef producers by $81 million. The net impact of the reduced supply of beef as a result of coyote predation was a gain of $61 million to beef producers, but it cost consumers an additional $98 million in higher prices for beef, resulting in an overall loss of $37 million. NASS (1992) reported that cattle and calf losses to coyotes in the United States were valued at $24.3 million in 1991.
Coyote predation also can cause substantial losses of domestic goats. In three studies in Texas, where an estimated 1.1 million goats (about 90% of the goats in the United States) are raised (Scrivner et al. 1985), predators were reported to take 18.1% of the adults and 33.9% of the kids (Pearson 1986). NASS (1991) reported that goat losses to coyotes in the United States were valued at $5.7 million in 1990.
Pearson (1986) stated that predators, particularly coyotes, accounted for losses of hundreds of chickens and turkeys in the 14 western states. In one study, Andelt and Gipson (1979) reported that between June 4 and August 31, 1976, a mated pair of coyotes apparently killed 268 domestic turkeys in Nebraska valued at $938.
Although the average value of livestock losses to coyotes reflected the overall impact on producers, it did not reflect the severity of losses to some individuals. Balser (1964) and Gee et al. (1977) indicated that coyote predation is much more serious for some producers than others. Most sheep producers suffer no or minor predator losses, whereas 20% to 25% of the producers suffer losses that are significantly higher than the average (US Fish Wildl. Serv. 1978). These losses can drive producers out of business because of low profit margins. Nonfatal injuries and harassment of livestock by coyotes also can result in reduced weight gain and subsequent reductions in profit.