Wolves killing livestock usually grabs people’s attentions, but coyotes have had a much wider impact.
According to published reports, wolves killed 120 sheep in Montana in 2008.
The next year, the rate increased to about an animal a day, including one attack that killed 148 sheep near Dillon.
That same year, 2009, coyotes were blamed for killing 2,500 sheep and 12,100 lambs in Montana, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agriculture Statistics Service.
“Coyotes are incredibly adaptable and abundant,” said Madonna Luers, spokeswoman for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “They can live anywhere. One of our biologists did a graduate thesis on coyotes living in Seattle, even down near the waterfront.”
With increasing numbers of wolves in Washington, hunters must be able to tell the difference between coyotes and wolves, which remain protected in the state.
Luers said she could understand some residents would question why the state has no bag limits and allows hunting all year for coyotes.
“They can be a problem,” she said.
“They are incredibly abundant and prolific. From a scientific basis, we are not worried about them getting overharvested.”
Studies following past efforts to control coyote numbers show that breeding pairs in those pressured areas responded by increasing their litters of puppies.
Other than allowing hunting, the state does not play a role in controlling coyote numbers, Luers said.
Any ranchers or landowners who have complaints about coyotes must take them to the USDA Wildlife Services based in Moses Lake.
According to statistics for Washington, federal employees killed 320 coyotes in 2013. In contrast, the same agency killed 324,102 voles and 6,866 feral pigeons.
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