Perceptions by Alabama Livestock Producers of Coyotes

During the last 20 years, coyote populations in the Southeast have increased. Information about livestock producers' perceptions towards coyotes and about economic and actual damage caused by coyotes in the Southeast was needed. We mailed questionnaires to 825 members of the Alabama Cattleman's Association (ACA) and to 189 members of the Alabama Lamb, Wool, and Mohair Association (LWMA) to evaluate knowledge and attitudes of Alabama cattle, sheep, and goat producers towards coyotes; and determine real or perceived economic losses caused by coyotes. Of the 1,014 livestock producers surveyed, 52 were unaccounted for, 5 respondents returned nonusable questionnaires, and 129 of the remaining 181 LWMA producers and 544 of the remaining 776 ACA producers surveyed returned useable questionnaires. Ten percent (n = 28) of the nonrespondents were contacted and no nonresponse bias was found. Average attitudinal scores were 3.87 (ACA) and 3.86 (LWMA) and were higher (i.e., favored coyote control) for respondents with coyote damage than for those without coyote damage. Agricultural producers in Alabama lacked basic knowledge about coyotes, with mean knowledge scores of 0.37 for ACA respondents and 0.36 for LWMA respondents on a scale where 1 was a perfect score. There were several items which producers believed had been damaged by coyotes in Alabama: calves, sheep, watermelon, cows, goats, horses, domestic fowl, corn, and dogs. This diversity may be attributed to the diverse number of agricultural products generated within the state and the opportunistic feeding style of the coyote. Although relatively few respondents reported coyote damage (N 192) and average economic losses were not high (max. x $994, min. x = $100, total $141,340), there appeared to be an intolerance to any losses associated with coyote depredation.

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