Coyotes can be a significant problem for livestock producers in Ontario. On April 12, 2022, OFA and Ontario Sheep Farmers hosted a Coyote Information Session. Our groups were joined by Brent Patterson, Senior Research Scientist, Wildlife Research and Monitoring Section for the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources, and Forestry. Brent’s current research focuses on the population dynamics of wolves, coyotes, and their prey in temperate and boreal regions. He has published extensively on wolves, coyotes, caribou, and moose in Ontario and beyond.
Brent discussed the ecology of coyotes and provided an overview of coyote research he and his team has conducted in Ontario. Additionally, Brent discussed the problem of livestock depredation by coyotes, provided advice on how to avoid conflict with coyotes, and engaged in a Q&A session afterwards with attendees.
Key takeaways from the session included that coyotes are smart, highly adaptable, and here to stay. Coyotes are not inherently bad nor good, but are just trying to survive and reproduce like all other animals. Coyotes prey on livestock due to energetics. Livestock are attractive prey as they pose less risk to hunt, and less energy needs to be expended by the coyote to get the most amount of calories compared to hunting wildlife.
The main idea to prevent livestock predation on your farm is to make it either more dangerous, more energy expensive, or more difficult for coyotes to prey on farm animals relative to them going out and pursuing a wild, free-range diet. Steps need to be taken to prevent livestock losses, including non-lethal deterrents. Lethal removal has little impact on coyote population density or livestock depredation. Attempt lethal control only when and where necessary. As coyotes are smart and hard to trap in the first place, trapping should be done by highly trained individuals, in a humane and legal manner. Once educated, coyotes become very difficult to capture. Non-lethal deterrents must be used during key times of the year, as depredation is mostly attributed to breeding males providing for their mate and pups. Additional, non-lethal deterrents must be used sparingly. Coyotes are intelligent and highly adaptable, which means these means will be short-lived.
If it’s not broken, don’t fix it! Not all coyotes are involved in livestock depredation. If you’re not experiencing problems with coyotes and livestock depredation, it is good advice to keep those resident coyotes there and healthy. If not, they can be replaced with ones that might choose to hunt your livestock.
Additional information on coyotes can be found on the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry website at ontario.ca/page/preventing-and-managing-conflicts-coyotes.