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Released:  June 2, 2000


Weird in the Wild:
    Killing Coyotes May Not Change Stateís Population Numbers

MANHATTAN, Kan. Ė In northern states, itís often grizzly bears or wolves. To the south, it can be black bears. For Kansas, however, the predator that always arouses the most emotion and controversy among state citizens is the coyote.

"We donít have the open range conditions that are typical in states such as Montana and Idaho. So, we also donít have the coyote problems they do," said Charlie Lee, K-State Research and Extension wildlife specialist. "But coyotes can cause the occasional loss here, particularly with sheep or baby calves. And, sometimes they expand territory into urban areas and become a threat to pets."

Ironically, many citizensí knee-jerk reaction to this is the 180-degree pole of whatís needed, he said. The approach pro-animal activists often prefer is off-base, too -- as is their "bottom-line" economic argument for protecting the coyote.

"Research suggests you cannot control the number of predators without removing 75 percent of the breeding population every year," Lee said. "People have tried relocating, poisoning, trapping and shooting coyotes. When the coyotes came under this kind of pressure, though, they simply started having larger litters of pups. And, a higher percentage of those pups survived. So, their overall population numbers stayed pretty much the same.

"In other words, if you eliminate a few individual coyotes, youíll have little effect on either the coyote population or their typical prey of field mice and rabbits.

More effective approaches include reducing rodent populations and protecting livestock, he said.

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K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus in Manhattan.


Kathleen W. Ward
Communications Specialist

K-State Research & Extension News

Lee is at 785-532-5734