I recently attended a meeting of area producers concerned about livestock depredation.
The main discussion centered on the damage being done by coyotes and the defunding of the state predator control program a few years back. At that time the state reduced the funding to the program by 2.35 million dollars for the 2017 – 2018 biennium. The coyote problem has escalated to the degree that some of the sheep producers are being put out of business because they cannot sustain the depredation on the ewes and lambs.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission has also recognized the severity of losing the fawns from both deer and antelope. In some areas they have reduce the number of hunting licenses to protect the dwindling herds. When the Game and Fish reduces the number of game licenses offered it effects main street especially in areas where economic sustainability hinges on hunters in the Fall. To hedge the increasing problem, the Game & Fish Commission has been putting some money back into the Wyoming Predator Control program. This, along with the funding from the livestock producers by a tax on sheep and cattle when they are sold, has help sustained the program in recent years.
The predators are also impacting the Sage Grouse population, a population that our state has remained active in keeping alive. The Johnson County Woolgrowers have been keeping track where their trappers have killed coyotes. They overlaid these kills on top of the “Leks”, the areas where the birds congregate to mate and nest. A large percentage of their kills have been in or near these mating grounds. The increasing number of coyotes in these “Leks” are causing more and more pressure on these birds.
With the reduction in funding for the predator control program, there has been a rapid increase in the coyote population with a corresponding decrease in the deer and antelope populations, not to mention the increase in losses of domestic livestock. The decrease in funding has also decreased the number of trappers available that work to control skunks and raccoons who carry rabies in and around towns. Rabies has been on the increase is some areas.
I have opposed the increase in state spending at almost every opportunity. However, I think it is very important to reinstate the funding that the state took away from the Predator Control Program 3 years ago. For the sake of our agriculture community, our wildlife and our State’s well-being, I strongly support this vital program, The State Predator Control program.

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