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Coyote! Program cuts could prove costly to livestock farmers

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine’s decision to cut $120,000 from the state’s Coyote Damage Control Program may prove costly for some area farmers.
“Without this service, some of our farmers will be hurting,” said Chad Fox, a district supervisor with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Fox, who oversees the coyote program, lives in Snowville.
The Coyote Damage Control Program was created in 1990 to help farmers deal with increasing losses of livestock from coyotes. According to USDA figures, the program assists an average of 200 sheep, cattle and goat farms in Virginia each year and results in $5 in savings to the sheep industry alone for every dollar spent on the program.
Cecil King, a Pulaski hair sheep farmer who uses the program, said the program is important to sheep farmers because coyotes are “our biggest nuisance.”
He says it is Fox’s assistance with combating coyotes that has allowed him to stay in the sheep business.
King points out that sheep producers have become an “economic boom” to Southwest Virginia because Food City has been “working hard to support lamb producers” on 230 farms from Floyd County to Knoxville, Tenn. He said most of the sheep farms are small and run by part-time farmers and they can’t afford large losses of livestock to coyotes.
King said Fox has worked with him numerous times to pinpoint areas where coyotes are living and gaining access to the farm. Fox would then suggest actions that should be taken to prevent the predators from getting to his sheep.
“We need to keep (Fox) and people like him” to analyze the farms and suggest coyote prevention methods, King said. “We can do the work, but his suggestions are a big help.
“Between (Fox) and Lester, I’ve only lost three lambs” to coyotes, King added. Lester is a guard llama on King’s farm on the north end of Pulaski. Llamas are naturally aggressive toward coyotes and dogs, according to the USDA.
King said coyotes are the biggest problem for farmers from late January to early June. He explained that the coyotes have their young to feed and most of the lambs are born during that time and make easy prey for the coyotes.
He said the coyotes are forever moving from one part of the farm to another trying to gain access to the sheep, so pinpointing where they are on one occasion doesn’t mean they will be staying there.
Although the control program also receives federal funding, Fox said the state cut accounts for 40 percent of the program’s budget. That means the program can no longer be provided in Southwest Virginia and the New River Valley.
Due to the federal funding received through the offices of Congressmen Bob Goodlatte and Tom Perriello, the program will be able to continue in parts of Southside Virginia, King said. The USDA also point out that it will continue in the Shenandoah Valley and the Alleghany Highlands.
In order to reinstate the program in this area, the Virginia General Assembly would need to appropriate $200,000 to the program in the upcoming General Assembly session.
Pulaski County Board of Supervisors recently voted to join Pittsylvania County in adopting resolutions requesting state legislators to continue to fund the program.
According to USDA figures, 522 sheep and seven calves were killed or injured by coyotes in six western Virginia counties from the early 1980s to 1987. By 1990 to 1991, the number of coyotes had increased to the point 4,100 sheep and 700 calves were reported killed. In the first five years of the program, losses were reduced by 72 percent, with 1,125 sheep killed by coyotes in 1994.
“Without actions to alleviate predation, losses to predators can be as high as 8.4 percent of ewes and 29.3 percent of lambs in the flock,” USDA reports. “… losses of sheep and lamb to predators are much lower where wildlife damage management is applied.”

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Coyote! Program cuts could prove costly to livestock farmers

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine’s decision to cut $120,000 from the state’s Coyote Damage Control Program may prove costly for some area farmers.
“Without this service, some of our farmers will be hurting,” said Chad Fox, a district supervisor with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Fox, who oversees the coyote program, lives in Snowville.
The Coyote Damage Control Program was created in 1990 to help farmers deal with increasing losses of livestock from coyotes. According to USDA figures, the program assists an average of 200 sheep, cattle and goat farms in Virginia each year and results in $5 in savings to the sheep industry alone for every dollar spent on the program.
Cecil King, a Pulaski hair sheep farmer who uses the program, said the program is important to sheep farmers because coyotes are “our biggest nuisance.”
He says it is Fox’s assistance with combating coyotes that has allowed him to stay in the sheep business.
King points out that sheep producers have become an “economic boom” to Southwest Virginia because Food City has been “working hard to support lamb producers” on 230 farms from Floyd County to Knoxville, Tenn. He said most of the sheep farms are small and run by part-time farmers and they can’t afford large losses of livestock to coyotes.
King said Fox has worked with him numerous times to pinpoint areas where coyotes are living and gaining access to the farm. Fox would then suggest actions that should be taken to prevent the predators from getting to his sheep.
“We need to keep (Fox) and people like him” to analyze the farms and suggest coyote prevention methods, King said. “We can do the work, but his suggestions are a big help.
“Between (Fox) and Lester, I’ve only lost three lambs” to coyotes, King added. Lester is a guard llama on King’s farm on the north end of Pulaski. Llamas are naturally aggressive toward coyotes and dogs, according to the USDA.
King said coyotes are the biggest problem for farmers from late January to early June. He explained that the coyotes have their young to feed and most of the lambs are born during that time and make easy prey for the coyotes.
He said the coyotes are forever moving from one part of the farm to another trying to gain access to the sheep, so pinpointing where they are on one occasion doesn’t mean they will be staying there.
Although the control program also receives federal funding, Fox said the state cut accounts for 40 percent of the program’s budget. That means the program can no longer be provided in Southwest Virginia and the New River Valley.
Due to the federal funding received through the offices of Congressmen Bob Goodlatte and Tom Perriello, the program will be able to continue in parts of Southside Virginia, King said. The USDA also point out that it will continue in the Shenandoah Valley and the Alleghany Highlands.
In order to reinstate the program in this area, the Virginia General Assembly would need to appropriate $200,000 to the program in the upcoming General Assembly session.
Pulaski County Board of Supervisors recently voted to join Pittsylvania County in adopting resolutions requesting state legislators to continue to fund the program.
According to USDA figures, 522 sheep and seven calves were killed or injured by coyotes in six western Virginia counties from the early 1980s to 1987. By 1990 to 1991, the number of coyotes had increased to the point 4,100 sheep and 700 calves were reported killed. In the first five years of the program, losses were reduced by 72 percent, with 1,125 sheep killed by coyotes in 1994.
“Without actions to alleviate predation, losses to predators can be as high as 8.4 percent of ewes and 29.3 percent of lambs in the flock,” USDA reports. “… losses of sheep and lamb to predators are much lower where wildlife damage management is applied.”

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