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Title: Coyotes in Their Economic Relations
Author: Lantz, David E.
Language: English
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                    U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

                  BIOLOGICAL SURVEY--BULLETIN No. 20

                        C. HART MERRIAM, Chief



                  COYOTES IN THEIR ECONOMIC RELATIONS


                                  BY


                            DAVID E. LANTZ

                 Assistant, Biological Survey


                            [Illustration]


                              WASHINGTON

                      GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE

                                 1905



LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL

                                   U. S. Department of Agriculture,
                                                 Biological Survey,
                               _Washington, D. C., March 23, 1905._

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith for publication
as Bulletin No. 20 of the Biological Survey a report on Coyotes in
subject is of immediate importance to the sheep industry of the West,
where the wasteful method of sheep herding prevails. If in the range
country sheep can be fenced with coyote-proof fencing at moderate cost,
as seems probable, herding may be done away with and the sustaining
capacity of the lands thereby greatly increased.

                                   Respectfully,

                                       C. Hart Merriam,
                                      _Chief, Biological Survey,_

  Hon. James Wilson,
      _Secretary of Agriculture._



CONTENTS.


                                                         Page.

  Introduction                                             7

  Abundance of coyotes                                     8
      Coyotes in Kansas                                    9

  General habits of coyotes                               10

  Food habits of coyotes                                  11
      Beneficial habits                                   12
      Injurious habits                                    13
          Game destroyed by coyotes                       14
          Depredations on farm animals                    14
          The coyote's relation to the sheep industry     16

  Means of destruction                                    18
      Poisoning                                           18
      Trapping                                            19
      Hunting                                             20
      Bounties                                            22

  Protection against coyotes                              23

  Investigations concerning coyote-proof fencing          24



COYOTES IN THEIR ECONOMIC RELATIONS



INTRODUCTION.


The small prairie wolves of the western and southwestern parts of
North America are generally known by the Spanish name 'coyote.'
This serves to distinguish them from the larger gray or dusky wolves
that occur in many portions of the same range.

Intermediate in size between the foxes and the larger wolves, yet
varying greatly in this respect with the different species, the coyotes
are outwardly characterized by a sharp-pointed muzzle, upright ears,
and a moderately long, bushy tail. The pelage is full, especially in
winter. The usual color is a dirty gray, with more or less reddish
tinge about the head, neck, and legs, and black hairs showing about
the shoulders and on the back. The extent of the red and the black
varies much with the different species.

Coyotes are generally distributed from the central Mississippi Valley
to the Pacific coast and from Costa Rica on the south to the plains
of the Athabasca on the north.[A] In this extensive range about a
dozen species have been thus far recognized.[B] Four of these are
restricted to Mexico and Central America. Of the eight forms that
occur in the United States, it may be remarked that their ranges and
relations to each other have not been fully determined. Much material
is yet needed before anyone can write with exact knowledge of
their distribution.

[Footnote A: Edward A. Preble informs the writer that the coyote has
been captured at Fort Smith, northern Athabasca (60° north latitude),
and on Nelson River in northeastern British Columbia (59° north
latitude).]

[Footnote B: The following is a list of the forms:

   1. _Canis latrans_ Say. Type from Council Bluffs, Iowa.
   2. _C. nebracensis_ Merriam. Type from Johnstown. Nebraska.
   3. _C. lestes_ Merriam. Type from Toyabe Mountains. Nevada.
   4. _C. frustror_ Woodhouse. Type from Fort Gibson, Indian Territory.
   5. _C. mearnsi_ Merriam. Type from Quitobaquita, Arizona.
   6. _C. estor_ Merriam. Type from San Juan River, Utah.
   7. _C. cagottis_ II. Smith. Type from Rio Frio, Mexico.
   8. _C. ochropus_ Escholtz. San Joaquin Valley, California.
   9. _C. peninsulæ_ Merriam. Type from Santa Anita. Lower California,
          Mexico.
  10. _C. microdon_ Merriam. Type from Mier. Tamaulipas. Mexico.
  11. _C. vigilis_ Merriam. Type from Manzanillo. Colima, Mexico.
  12. _C. goldmani_ Merriam. Type from San Vicente. Chiapas, Mexico.
]

A group in which there is so much variation in size must also present
considerable diversity of habits. The larger forms, like _C. latrans_,
are, of course, the more injurious to the live-stock interests. Smaller
species, like _C. estor_ and _microdon_, confine themselves in their
food more to the smaller wild mammals and thus do much less damage. Yet
it is not the intention in this preliminary bulletin to consider the
species separately. Indeed, no such detailed study of their habits has
yet been made. The present paper deals with the group as a whole, and
is confined to a discussion of the economic relations of coyotes in
general to our agricultural interests.

In the matter of fencing to protect sheep and poultry against coyote
depredations, the Biological Survey has made some preliminary
investigations, and has formulated plans for more extensive experiments
in the near future. In the meantime it is hoped that farmers and
ranchmen throughout the West who have had personal experience of the
efficiency of various forms of fence as a protection against coyotes
and other wild animals will write the Biological Survey fully as to
such experience.



ABUNDANCE OF COYOTES.


Coyotes are abundant in most parts of their range, except the extreme
north and the more thickly populated regions where waste lands are
scarce. It is, however, on the plains of the western part of the United
States that they come most closely in contact with the advancing
tide of settlement. The establishment of pioneer homes throughout
the country has always resulted in restricting the numbers of the
larger wolves, which have gradually become extinct over large areas
in the eastern and middle parts of the United States where they were
formerly abundant. Not so with the coyote. Except in a few thickly
settled regions, it has thrived upon civilization and is practically
as numerous as it was before settlements began. Indeed, in many parts
of the West coyotes are said to be increasing in spite of a constant
warfare against them.

The introduction of domestic birds and mammals has provided the coyotes
with an additional food supply always available and entirely precluding
any danger of starvation. Then, too, the animals are far too suspicious
to be easily destroyed by the use of traps or poisons. Old hunters of
the Plains have informed the writer that while it was comparatively
easy to poison large numbers of the gray wolf, the coyote was not an
easy victim and usually avoided both the baited traps and the poisoned
buffalo carcasses.

The plains east of the Rocky Mountains and the higher plateaus of
the Great Basin west of the mountains are especially adapted to the
wants of the coyote. Cultivated areas are far apart: stock ranges
are extensive; tall grasses, weeds, cactuses, and sagebrush afford
excellent hiding places; rabbits, prairie dogs, ground squirrels, and
other small animals are plentiful; and, when these natural resources of
the country fail, sheep and young calves furnish abundant food.

In nearly all the Western States the efforts of ranchmen to destroy
the coyote have been supplemented by laws authorizing the payment of
bounties from public funds. Some of these laws have been in operation
for a score of years or even more and, except locally, no diminution
in the general numbers of the animals has resulted. In some parts of
Mexico where the natives have for many years practiced systematic
poisoning, the coyote is becoming rare, but in most sections of its
range it is either increasing or no substantial decrease has been
observed.


COYOTES IN KANSAS.

The State of Kansas, where settlements are comparatively old and where
man's warfare against the coyote has been long continued, affords
an excellent illustration of the animal's ability to maintain its
numbers under seemingly adverse circumstances. Most of the counties of
the State have for many years paid bounties for killing coyotes, and
conditions have been reached where there is little fluctuation in the
total amount paid from year to year. The returns of the animals killed
for the fiscal twelve months from July 1, 1903, to June 30, 1904, show
that nearly 20,000 scalps were presented for bounty in the State.

The following is a table, by counties, of the number of coyotes on
which bounties were paid during the year above specified. Of the 11
missing counties, 10--Cherokee. Comanche. Finney. Grant, Haskell,
Kearney, Morton, Seward, Stevens, and Wyandotte--paid no bounties, and
1, Doniphan, made no report. The bounty in all cases is $1 for each
animal killed.

_Number of coyotes on which bounties were paid in Kansas from July 1,
1903, to June 30. 1904._

  County.      Number     County.      Number     County.      Number
             of coyotes.             of coyotes.             of coyotes.

  Allen            73     Harper           44     Phillips        400
  Anderson        129     Harvey           99     Pottawatomie    329
  Atchison         48     Hodgeman         74     Pratt           242
  Barber          633     Jackson          86     Rawlins         223
  Barton          109     Jefferson        94     Reno            184
  Bourbon         157     Jewell          106     Republic         52
  Brown            70     Johnson          62     Rice             90
  Butler          186     Kingman         257     Riley           206
  Chase           343     Kiowa           477     Rooks           280
  Chautauqua      451     Labette         137     Rush            144
  Cheyenne        585     Lane            164     Russell         258
  Clark           460     Leavenworth      56     Saline          186
  Clay            104     Lincoln         105     Scott           193
  Cloud            42     Linn            175     Sedgwick        223
  Coffey          159     Logan           329     Shawnee          69
  Cowley          325     Lyon            197     Sheridan        306
  Crawford         51     Marion          166     Sherman         291
  Decatur         240     Marshall        304     Smith           133
  Dickinson       145     McPherson       210     Stafford        142
  Douglas          99     Meade           224     Stanton         188
  Edwards         290     Miami            96     Sumner          401
  Elk             212     Mitchell        100     Thomas          185
  Ellis           248     Montgomery      148     Trego           430
  Ellsworth       193     Morris          176     Wabaunsee       170
  Ford            500     Nemaha           58     Wallace         259
  Franklin        152     Neosho           98     Washington      200
  Geary           102     Ness            273     Wichita         307
  Gove            355     Norton          227     Wilson          210
  Graham          293     Osage           173     Woodson         115
  Greeley[C]      117     Osborne         248
  Greenwood       336     Ottawa           61         Total    19,152
  Hamilton        275     Pawnee          230

[Footnote C: six months.]

The experience in Kansas is not exceptional. It may be duplicated in a
dozen other Western States and in some of the British provinces. It is
probable that the united efforts of the people are keeping the coyotes
in check, and that, were these efforts relaxed, the animals would be
far more abundant; but the coyotes are still so menacing to certain
interests that the subject requires careful investigation to determine
what more may be done to improve present conditions.



GENERAL HABITS OF COYOTES.


The various forms of the coyote seem each to conform to particular
faunal areas. They inhabit all the life zones, from the Lower Boreal,
through the Transition, the Upper and Lower Sonoran, and the semi-arid
parts of the Tropical. In the northern part of its range C. latrans
has a migratory movement southward in winter and north ward in the
spring, probably caused by the limited food supply of the northern
wilds, and varying in degree with the severity of the seasons. A
similar movement of other species in the western part of the United
States from the higher mountain areas to the valleys has been noticed.
In summer the mountain species range above timber line.

The coyotes are noted for their peculiar prolonged howling. A single
animal is capable of a performance which impresses the uninformed
hearer as the concert of a dozen, and when several join in the medley
the resulting noise is indescribable. They are silent during the day,
but may be heard at any time between sunset and sunrise.

Coyotes breed but once a year. The mating season is late in January
or early in February. The period of gestation is probably that of
the whole genus _Canis_, which is given by Owen as about sixty-three
days. The young are produced in dens, and number from four to eight or
even more. The dens are usually enlarged from those made by badgers
or smaller animals and are often among rocks or in washed-out places
along banks of streams. Probably at times they are made entirely by
the coyotes. They are rarely far below the surface, but sometimes of
considerable extent and with two or more openings. Little attempt is
made to provide nests for the young. In the Central West these are born
early in April and usually may be heard in the dens during May. In
June they come out to play around the mouths of the burrows, which are
finally deserted during July. By August 1, the young are left by the
parents to shift for themselves.

In the earlier descriptions, the prairie wolves were usually said
to hunt in packs. Lewis and Clark, Say. Richardson, and others so
reported, but the Prince of Wied met them only singly. It is probable
that they hunt in numbers only when the quarry is large, as in the ease
of deer and antelope; but as many as three have been known to pursue a
single jack rabbit.



FOOD HABITS OF COYOTES.


The food of coyotes has been a subject of investigation by the field
naturalists of the Biological Survey, whenever opportunity offered. A
number of stomach examinations have been made in the field: but trapped
animals are often found with empty stomachs. In the case of a number of
the species nothing definite is known of the food.

The stomachs examined contained mainly animal matter, but in two cases
vegetable remains were found. One examined by Vernon Bailey contained
a quantity of ripe cultivated plums: and William Lloyd found a coyote
that had eaten mesquite beans. In northern Arizona Doctor Merriam
saw a coyote eating a watermelon, and a correspondent al Russell,
Kans., says that they sometimes cat ripe melons. In California they
cat peaches, apricots, grapes, and other fruits. They cat also
juniper berries, manzanita berries, and the fruit of the prickly pear
(_Opuntia_).

Only one case of insect-eating has been observed by the Biological
Survey. The same animal that had eaten plums had in its stomach the
remains of a large cricket (_Stenopelmatus fasciatus_).

Coyotes feed greedily upon all kinds of animal food. This ranges
from the larger hoofed mammals to the smallest rodents, and includes
also birds, reptiles, fish, and crustaceans. Three horned toads
(_Phrynosoma_) were found in the stomach of a specimen killed June
3, 1898, in Big Smoky Valley. Nevada, by Vernon Bailey. On the low
tropical coast of eastern Mexico and Texas members of the Biological
Survey have often seen coyotes searching the beach for crabs, fish, and
turtle eggs.


BENEFICIAL HABITS.

Among the mammals included in the food of the coyotes are many
injurious species; and, so far as their food is confined to these,
the animals are decidedly beneficial to the farming interests of the
country. The destruction of rabbits, both large and small species, is
of great advantage, especially on the plains and in the cultivated
valleys, where their depredations are keenly felt by the settlers. The
various species of jack rabbit have often been observed as included in
the coyotes' fare, and the smaller rabbits are also habitually eaten.
The coyotes usually catch the rabbits by lying in wait behind bushes
and bunches of grass near their paths and pouncing upon them as they
pass. Sometimes they have been known to hunt jack rabbits in company.
While a single coyote would not be able to run down a jack rabbit, by
hunting together, taking turns in the drive, and by taking advantage of
the tendency of the hare to run in a circle, they are able to capture
it. Eye witnesses to such a performance state that they do not fight
over the division of the rabbit's carcass, but that all obtain a share.
The constant warfare of many coyotes upon these rodents has much to
do in keeping down the numbers; and the abundance of rabbits in some
sections of the West has been largely attributed to a local decrease in
the number of coyotes, caused by an unusual activity against them which
had been stimulated by high bounties.

Prairie dogs (_Cynomys ludovicianus_ and other species) are also a
staple coyote food. The coyote captures them by hiding behind clumps
of weeds or bunches of grass at some distance from the burrows. When
the unsuspecting rodent, in feeding, approaches near enough, a few
leaps enable the coyote to secure it. The grass in a prairie dog
'town' is usually cropped very short, and all tall-growing weeds
are cut down. Sometimes a weed is permitted to grow to maturity on
the cone-like mound sit the mouth of a burrow. Only three species
of weeds have been seen so growing by the writer--the horse nettle
(_Solanum rostratum_), the Mexican poppy (_Argemone_), and a Euphorbia
(_Euphorbia marginata_). These afford shade to the animals, but do not
obstruct the view. All other weeds, and even cultivated crops, are cut
down to prevent the unseen approach of an enemy. When the cultivated
crop is some rapid-growing or dense one which they can not clear away,
they abandon the land rather than stay to be devoured.

But clearing the prairie dog town of weeds is not sufficient to baffle
the coyote. In the absence of hiding places he takes to new methods of
hunting. J. H. Gaut, of the Biological Survey, records his observations
in a prairie dog town in New Mexico:

  The coyote started at one end of the town and ran at lightning speed
  in a straight line until he cut off one from its burrow. When the
  prairie dog saw that it could not get to its hole, it stopped and
  began to kick until the coyote caught it and killed it in very much
  the same way that a dog kills a rat.

Besides rabbits and prairie dogs, the food of the coyote is known to
include the following mammals:

Rice rats (_Oryzomys_), kangaroo rats (_Dipodomys_ and _Perodipus_),
wood rats (_Neotoma_), ground squirrels (_Ammospermophilus_,
_Callospermophilus_, and _Spermophilus_), woodchucks (_Marmota_), voles
(_Microtus_), pocket gophers (_Thomomys_), chipmunks (_Eutamias_), and
pocket mice (_Perognathus_). All of these are more or less harmful,
and the coyote performs an important service in preying upon them. The
service is not an occasional or a spasmodic one, but lasts throughout
the year and throughout the life of the coyote. When the number of
animals taking part in the work is considered, the enormous importance
of its bearing in maintaining the 'balance of nature' becomes apparent.

The coyote is useful also as a scavenger. In the prairie country,
especially in winter, it comes into towns at night searching for
garbage thrown into the alleys. Here it finds remnants of meat from
the table, offal from game, and similar prizes. When hungry it will
reject no animal food, not even carrion. The slaughterhouses near the
towns are favorite feeding places, and the animals are often shot there
by moonlight. On the ranges they soon consume dead horses and cattle.
Leaving the bones clean.


INJURIOUS HABITS.

Coyotes have been known to capture some of the wild animals that assist
man in his warfare' against insects and rodent pests. Among them are
the weasels. In August, 1903, a member of the Biological Survey met a
coyote carrying a weasel in the Pecos River Mountains of New Mexico at
an altitude of 11,600 feet. The coyote, frightened, dropped its prey
and ran off. The various kinds of skunks also are probably captured and
eaten.


GAME DESTROYED BY COYOTES.

Coyotes destroy considerable game. Birds that roost and nest on the
ground are frequent victims. Quail, grouse, and wild ducks are caught
on the nest, and both birds and eggs are eaten. Wild ducks and geese,
when wounded and unable to fly, may be found along the banks of streams
and ponds, and the coyotes regularly patrol the shores in search of
them. In Oklahoma I found fresh coyote tracks each morning on the
grassy borders of a large artificial pond. Ducks resorted there in
considerable flocks, and I several times found that they had been eaten
by coyotes, as evidenced by tracks of the animals and feathers of the
birds.

Like the larger wolves, the prairie wolf kills deer and antelope. In
hunting these they always go in packs of two or more and take turns
in the chase. They know that their prey runs in large circles, and at
intervals individuals drop out of the pursuit and, crossing a chord of
the circle, lie in wait until the quarry passes near them again. In
this way the wolves keep fresh until the pursued animal is exhausted,
but all of them are 'in at the death.' The present scarcity of these
large game animals gives few opportunities for such chases, but on the
plains they were formerly of frequent occurrence.


DEPREDATIONS ON FARM ANIMALS.

The coyote is widely and unfavorably known as a destroyer of domestic
animals. Its depredations upon these indicate a marked change of
habit since the first settlement of the West. Previously its food was
restricted to the wild animals, including young buffalo, antelope, and
deer. The destruction of the larger game by man may partly account
for the change to farm animals as a diet, but it is probable that
the quality of the introduced food had much to do with the coyote's
preference for it.

The coyote kills hens, ducks, geese, and turkeys. Its usual method of
capturing them in daytime is to lurk behind weeds or bushes until the
fowls come within reach. Turkeys, which range far afield in search
of grasshoppers and other insects, are frequent victims. At night
the coyote captures poultry from the roost, provided the door of the
henhouse is left open. A correspondent of the Biological Survey wrote
from Rexburg, Idaho, that one neighbor had lost 60 chickens and
another 30 in one night, taken by coyotes. Another correspondent, in
Mayer, Ariz., writes:

  Have lost about 100 chickens by coyotes. With the exception of killing
  chickens, I believe them to be beneficial in keeping down the rabbit
  pest.

In approaching ranch buildings either by day or by night the coyote
conies from the leeward side and with great caution. Once satisfied
that no danger lurks in the shadows, it becomes exceedingly hold.
George A. Coleman, formerly a member of the Biological Survey, wrote
from London, Nemaha County, Nebr.:

  Depredations by wolves here upon henroosts and pigpens are of frequent
  occurrence. I have observed them several times. They come with a dash
  into the yard, take a chicken by the neck, and are gone before anyone
  can stop them. In the same way they visit the pigpens and take the
  young pigs away from the mother. In one instance they made way with
  eight 6-weeks-old pigs in one night. At another time two of them
  attacked a pig which would have weighed 75 pounds, and had they not
  been stopped by dog's would probably have killed it.

Few of the mammals of the farm are exempt from coyote raids. Even house
cats, roaming far from home in search of rodents or birds, become
victims. A correspondent of Forest and Stream, writing from Shirley
Basin, Wyo., October 7, 1896, says:

  I live on a ranch, and we are somewhat troubled by field mice and
  mountain rats, and so we must keep cats. We have them, but we do not
  keep them long, because they are caught by coyotes. Within a few
  months I have lost four cats in this way.

The coyote has been known to kill the young of most farm
animals--colts, calves, pigs, lambs, and goats. Colts are seldom
killed, because the dam can usually protect them. Calves are taken only
when the mother cow is feeding at a distance or has gone for water.
The coyotes lie watching in the grass until this opportunity comes.
Sometimes older animals are killed. Ranchmen in Oklahoma told the
writer that in winter yearling cattle in good condition are sometimes
killed by coyotes. To accomplish this two or more of them must hunt
together, and get the victim separated from the herd.

Capt. P. M. Thorne, writing to the Biological Survey from Fort Lyon,
Colo.. January 4, 1887, says:

  Old cattlemen who have lived here nearly all their lives agree in
  saying that the coyotes kill cattle, even full-grown ones. They say
  that they have seen them at their work, which is done in packs; they
  surround an animal and keep up a constant nipping at its legs until it
  falls from weakness and loss of blood.

In July. 1893, at Farmington, Utah, Vernon Bailey saw two coyotes
chasing calves and yearlings about a pasture, evidently trying to
separate one from the lot. He notes that in June. 1889, at St. Thomas,
Nev., coyotes killed a hog that weighed about 100 pounds.


THE COYOTE'S RELATION TO THE SHEEP INDUSTRY.

The coyote is especially notorious as an enemy of the sheep industry.
In many parts of the West sheep raising has greatly languished because
of the depredations of wild animals upon the flocks. While some of
the injury is caused by the larger wolves, mountain lions, bears, and
lynxes, the coyotes are by far the most formidable enemy. They are
not only more abundant than the other animals mentioned, but they are
present throughout the year, and their depredations are a steady drain
upon the resources of the flock owner, comparable in extent to the
losses caused by worthless dogs in many parts of the country.[D]

[Footnote D: In 1801 the loss from dogs was placed at $152,034 in Ohio
and $200,000 in Missouri. (Sheep Industry in the United States. U. S.
Dept of Agric, 1892.)]

Dr. E. A. C. Foster, writing from Russell, Kans., in 1887, said:

  Of mammals, the prairie wolf is perhaps the most troublesome. It is
  constantly preying upon sheep and lambs; so much so that sheep can
  not be left alone without some of them falling a prey to this animal.
  Should the herder be absent or out of view, the wolf makes a dash into
  the flock and usually secures a lamb.

William Lloyd, writing from Paint Rock, Concho County, Tex., said:

  In January. 1886, coyotes killed over 30 sheep near Fort Stockton, and
  in March about 20 at Toyah, Tex.

Charles W. Richmond, in 1888, wrote to the Survey from Gallatin County.
Mont., relating the following incident:

  While we were camped near Bozeman a flock of some 4,000 sheep were
  driven by, and night overtook them on some foothills south of Bozeman.
  During the night a flock of coyotes entered the ranks and the sheep
  stampeded. Many ran over some bluffs, and next morning sheep, dead
  and dying, were several feet deep at the foot of the bluffs. Nearly
  500 were counted in the pile, and for several days afterwards sheep,
  with lacerated ears and torn flanks, wandered into barnyards in the
  vicinity. The total number lost must have been heavy.

In parts of the Southwest sheep growers have estimated their losses
from wild animals as equal to 20 percent of the flock. The average loss
reported from several States is 5 percent. In nearly all the States
west of the Mississippi the industry has declined in the past two
years, and one of the principal causes given is losses from coyotes.
At present the industry thrives only in sections where the local
conditions permit the herding of sheep in large flocks--a system highly
injurious to the pasturage.

It is evident that the wealth of any State could be materially
increased if it were possible everywhere to keep small flocks of sheep,
Flocks increase rapidly under favorable conditions and good management,
and the cost of keeping them is small when herders can be dispensed
with. The double product, wool and million, usually places the profit
of handling them above that of cuttle or horses. The gains also come
oftener, since sheep mature in a year, while cattle and horse require
three.

Vernon Bailey, chief field naturalist of the Biological Survey, writing
from Seguin, Tex., under date of November 8, 1904, says:

  No sheep are kept in tins part of Texas, and in talking with several
  intelligent farmers I find that the reason invariably given is the
  abundance of coyotes. The region is occupied by small farms, mainly 80
  to 500 acres, on which cotton, corn, sorghum, and vegetables are the
  principal crops. There are few if any large stock ranches, but each
  farm has its pastures for horses and cattle. These pastures are the
  wild land covered with scattered mosquito, post oak, and patches of
  chaparral and cactus. The native grasses are abundant and of excellent
  quality, and in this mild climate furnish good feed throughout the
  year. Many of the pastures are not half eaten down, and the dead and
  dry vegetation becomes a nuisance. After harvest cattle and horses are
  usually turned into cotton and grain fields, where they do good work
  in cleaning up grass and weeds in the field and along the borders.
  Still there is abundance of feed constantly going to waste, and a
  small flock of sheep could be kept with great profit and no expense on
  almost every farm.

  Fifty to two hundred sheep on a farm would at once make this part
  of Texas the most important woolgrowing section of the State.
  Other advantages to be gained would be keeping down the cactus and
  chaparral, which are inclined to spread and occupy much of the ground,
  keeping the edges of pastures and fields cleaned up so that they would
  not harbor a host of predaceous insects and rodents in close proximity
  to growing crops, and furnishing to the farmers and small towns a
  supply of fresh meat other than chicken. In this warm climate beef
  is rarely available, except in the larger towns. The advantages of
  introducing sheep into this part of the country are acknowledged by
  the farmers, and there seems to be no reason why it has not been done,
  except that coyotes are common, large, and fond of mutton.

Similar conditions prevail in many parts of the West and over large
areas. While a dozen years ago the low price of wool was an important
factor in causing farmers to abandon sheep raising, in recent years the
prices have been excellent. Fine washed wool was quoted in the New York
market February 6, 1905, at 32.35 cents per pound and in St. Louis on
the same date at 40.41 cents per pound. The price of tub-washed wool
at St. Louis was at no time during 1904 less than 30 cents per pound.
Unwashed wool ranged from 15 to 31 cents during most of the year. Yet
the number of sheep in the United States is now decreasing. Montana,
with an area of 146,000 square miles, leads the States in the number
of sheep kept, which is 5,638,957.[E] England, with an area of 50,867
square miles, has about five times as many as Montana. In Montana sheep
are herded in immense flocks; in England every landowner and farmer
keeps a small flock.

[Footnote E: Crop Reporter, U. S. Dept. Agric. February, 1905.]

It is evident that the discouraging condition of the sheep industry
in the United States is not due to a lack of favorable climate nor to
the absence of suitable pasturage. Neither is it due to low prices of
wool and mutton. Indeed, in our markets mutton is coming to be more and
more in favor, and this growing demand may be one of the causes for
the present drain upon the flocks and the decrease in their numbers;
but the chief discouragement of the industry undoubtedly lies in the
depredations of worthless dogs and coyotes.

The dog question is a serious one, especially in thickly settled
parts of the country, but the evil is best remedied by a resort to
taxation. The tax on dogs should be sufficiently high to put most of
the worthless ones out of existence.



MEANS OF DESTRUCTION.


The coyote problem is a serious one. Various methods of dealing with
it have been in vogue since coyotes first began to like mutton. None
of the methods have been entirely satisfactory, and some are signal
failures. All of them combined have resulted in a partial check on the
increase of coyotes in most parts of their range. Poison has probably
killed the greatest number of adult animals, and in some parts of
Mexico has almost destroyed some of the species, but no such success
has attended its use in the United States.


POISONING.

Strychnine has always been a favorite weapon of hunters for wolf pelts
and bounties. A half century ago hunters on the prairies killed the
buffalo for its pelt, and added to their income by killing the wolves
that followed the daily slaughter. A little strychnine inserted in the
skinned carcass of a buffalo enabled them to secure many pelts of the
gray wolf and occasionally one of the coyote; but not often the latter:
he was regarded as much too shrewd to be taken by ordinary methods of
poisoning. Resides, the pelt was small and not sufficiently valuable in
comparison to warrant special efforts to secure it. Even in 1819 Thomas
Say, who first gave a scientific name to a coyote, found this animal
more abundant than the gray wolf.[F] Yet the number killed for their
pelts has never been great.

[Footnote F: Long's Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, p. 168, 1823.]

As an illustration of the coyote's shrewdness in avoiding poisoned
bails, a farmer in Oklahoma gave the writer the following experience:
After butchering some hogs he poisoned a hogskin and left it with other
offal for a coyote that nightly prowled about his premises. In the
morning everything but the poisoned skin had been cleared away. He left
it two more nights, but it remained untouched. Thinking that the animal
would not eat the poisoned bait, he buried it. That night the coyote
dug up the pigskin and ate it, falling a victim to its deadly contents.
Since then the farmer says he has never failed to poison coyotes when
he buries the bait.

Another method of poisoning coyotes is to insert the strychnine in
small chunks of meat that can be easily swallowed. Success by this
method depends largely upon the condition of the animal as regards
hunger, and may be helped by making what is known as a 'drag' in the
neighborhood of the bait. A small animal--a bleeding dead rabbit is
good--is dragged over the prairie and the morsels of bail left at
intervals along the 'drag.' Two days previous to a general coyote hunt
in Oklahoma a steer badly affected by 'lumpy jaw' was killed, opened,
and left in the middle of the area to be hunted. During the first night
coyotes howled all night in the vicinity of the carcass, but failed to
touch it. The second day a hind quarter was separated from the carcass
and dragged in a circuit of a mile or two, the drag coming hack to the
carcass. During the following night the coyotes picked the bones of the
carcass hare. Thus gorged with beef, they were in a condition favorable
for their slaughter in the drive of the following day.

In the use of strychnine for wolves, the dry crystals of strychnia
sulphate are generally preferred. They should be inserted in the
bait with a knife blade, and the meat should be handled as little as
possible. It should be remembered that if precautions are not taken
there is a greater probability of killing dogs than wolves. The entire
neighborhood should know of the intended attempt, and all valuable dogs
should be confined until the operation is finished and uneaten baits
disposed of.


TRAPPING.

Coyotes are not easily trapped. Some skill and a good knowledge
of their habits are requisites for success. They travel in rather
well-defined paths and usually hunt against the wind. Having a keen
sense of smell, they easily detect the tracks of man, and if they have
had previous experience of traps or guns they are suspicious of danger.
In the wildest parts of the country remote from settlement they are
more readily trapped. The chances for successful trapping decrease with
their familiarity with man, so that there is little probability that
the process will ever have much effect on their numbers.

The writer knows a Kansas trapper who is quite successful in capturing
coyotes in a rather thickly settled part of that State. He steel traps
and sets them along hedges in places where the animals are accustomed
to pass through openings. No bait is used and the trap is partly
concealed by dead leaves or grasses. He claims that both the direction
of the wind and of the animal as it approaches the opening have much to
do with the chance for success.

Field naturalists of the Biological Survey usually have experienced
little difficulty in securing coyotes in traps. A No. 3 steel trap
is generally used. A suitable place is selected along a narrow path
or trail and the trap sunk in the ground level with the surface
and concealed with fine grass, leaves, or other material that will
harmonize with the surroundings. At the same time care is taken that
the material used shall leave the jaws of the trap free to spring clear
of the covering.

The trap should be fastened to a bush or stake, or if these are not
available, to a clog. For the last a pole lying on the ground is
best, since it may be utilized without moving it or disturbing the
surroundings. If the trap is anchored to a bush or small tree the chain
must be securely fastened with snap or wire. A stout stake over which
the ring will not slip, driven out of sight into the ground, is better.
Every part of the trap and chain is covered, and the ground left in as
natural and undisturbed condition as possible.

Any kind of fresh meat will do for bait--rabbits and other small
rodents are often used, but larger baits seem to be more attractive.
it is also of advantage after setting the trap to make a 'drag' of
the bait for a quarter to a half mile, at the end of a rope from the
saddle horn, and finally to fasten it to a bush or stake close to the
trap, or cut it in bits and scatter all around the trap so that not all
can be reached by the coyote without walking over the trap. The skill
of the trapper and the situation of the trap will determine the best
arrangement. The suspicion of the coyote is lessened apparently after
following the bloody trail of a well-planned drag.

Before setting the traps many trappers rub their feet and hands on a
skin or some strong-smelling meat or carcass to conceal the human odor.
Oil of anise or rhodium is sometimes used for the same purpose. Any
strong odor is likely to attract the attention of the coyote and allay
suspicion. Care must be taken not to spit on the ground or kneel or
throw down any clothing in the vicinity of the trap. A good plan is to
set a line of traps and leave them for a day or two, and then go the
rounds with a horse and drag, and bait the traps without dismounting.


HUNTING.

Many ranchmen find dogs an efficient help in guarding against coyote
depredations. For this purpose the small varieties are useless, since
the coyotes do not fear them. Beagles and larger foxhounds are too
slow. Staghounds, Russian wolfhounds, greyhounds, and their crosses
are to be preferred: and at least three are needed to successfully
chase and safely kill a coyote. These dogs soon learn to hunt wolves,
and are seldom known to harm sheep. Ranches on which they are kept are
comparatively free from depredations of wild animals, while others
within a few miles are by do means exempt. Of course, the keeping of
these dogs on small farms would hardly be practicable.

In the open country where there are few fences, hunting the coyote
with horse and dogs is an exciting sport. Fox chasing, although less
meritorious in purpose, may have some advantages as sport, because
the quarry is not always in sight and the skill of the hounds is
pitted against the cunning of the fox. In the chase of the wolf, as
in coursing hares, the race is straight away and without cover; and
when the quarry is overtaken the fight is won only because of the
overpowering numbers of the pursuers. The ordinary greyhound can easily
overtake a coyote, but is usually unable to kill it alone.

Coyote drives, in which an entire community engage, have become a
popular feature of rural sport in some parts of the country. Such
drives have been held in Kansas, Colorado. Idaho. Oklahoma, and Texas;
but the methods employed depend largely on the local topography. The
writer was present at the second annual wolf hunt which took place
November 24, 1904, in the large Pasture Reserve near Chattanooga, Okla.

On Thanksgiving morning the weather was perfect, and a large number
of people from the surrounding country collected in the village of
Chattanooga. A little before noon the men who were to drive the wolves
rode out of town and headed for their positions in the Pasture. As
there were less than 150 men, the area covered by the drive was not
so large as had been planned. The drivers were separated into three
divisions. The south division, which was under the immediate charge of
the commander of the hunt, Mr. J. W. Williams, proceeded about 7 miles
south of Chattanooga. The eastern and the western divisions were under
the charge of other captains and had their stations about 4 miles to
the southeast and southwest of the town. The area covered by the drive
was somewhat over 6 miles square.

On the north side were the spectators, occupying a position about a
mile and a half from the town and extending over nearly 2 miles of
front, from which the land sloped gently to the south. The spectators
came from town in every sort of farm vehicle and numbered fully 500.

In front of the line of vehicles some 50 men on horseback held in
reserve nearly 100 dogs, mostly greyhounds. Guns of all kinds were
ruled out of the final 'round-up,' and only lariats, dogs, and clubs
were permitted as weapons.

The line of spectators was formed at 1 o'clock, but it was fully an
hour before the driving divisions were heard or seen. In the south a
beautiful mirage occupied the distant valley a white sheet of water
bordered by trees. It was on the surface of this mimic lake that we
first saw the riders galloping by twos. Soon after we faintly heard
their distant shouts; and when the shouts began to come clearer, the
coyotes also came up the valley by ones and twos, and at length by
threes and fours before the swiftly moving horsemen.

When the first wolf was still a half mile distant, the dogs were
released and riders and dogs dashed to the front to head off the
animals. Hemmed in in front and rear, they broke to the right and to
the left, and many made good their escape through the thinner lines of
the east and the west divisions.

The sport was fast and furious for a short time, but when a little
Later the dead and captured wolves were brought together in the town,
they were found to number only eleven in all. Two of them were roped
by cowboys during the drive and killed with pistols. Two were dragged
to death at the end of lariats. Seven were caught by the dogs in the
round-up, and two of these were brought in alive. Many escaped, but it
is impossible to estimate the number.

Such hunts have considerable influence in decreasing the number of
coyotes and also afford an agreeable break in the monotony of frontier
life. Their purpose, however, is never admitted to be that of sport,
but to kill coyotes.


BOUNTIES.

Activity in the warfare against the coyote has been considerably
stimulated by the payment of bounties from the public treasury of the
States and counties. Nearly all the States in which coyotes occur have
been for years maintaining such bounty systems. In some parts of the
West these are supplemented by rewards from stock associations or ranch
owners. The bounties from public funds have ranged from 25 cents to $5
for each animal killed, but supplementary payments sometimes make them
as high as $15.

The subject of bounties in general has been already discussed by Dr.
T. S. Palmer, of the Biological Survey.[G] Doctor Palmer refers to the
California coyote act of 1891, which was practically in force only
eighteen months, but which cost the State $187,485. As the bounty was
$5 per scalp, this represented the destruction of 37,493 coyotes.
Kansas, with a county bounty of $1 per animal, succeeds in destroying
about 20,000 each year. In addition to the bounty, the pelt of an adult
coyote is worth from 50 cents to $1.50, according to its condition.
However, most of the killing is accomplished in spring, when the female
and her young are dug out of dens and the pelage of the adults is not
in prime condition.

[Footnote G: Extermination of Noxious Animals by Bounties. Yearbook U.
S. Dept of Agr., 1896, pp. 55-68.]

Doctor Palmer rightly concludes that in practice bounties for the
destruction of noxious animals, paid from public funds, are usually
objectionable. Probably those on wolves and coyotes have been more
nearly justified than those on any other animals. While it is certain
that the larger wolves have greatly diminished in numbers under the
system, forces far more potent than mere rewards have operated against
them. Chief of these has been the encroachment of civilization. Coyotes
have in some places held their ground under bounties, and possibly
might have been held in check nearly as well under the operation of the
same forces that helped to decimate the timber wolves. But the observed
effect on the coyote of contact with settlements hardly justifies such
a conclusion. That the bounties in some places have done effective
work is undoubted; the question is as to whether the results have been
commensurate with the expenditures. However, the principal objection to
bounties is the ethical one, that they lead to fraudulent practices.



PROTECTION AGAINST COYOTES.


The discussion of the various means of destroying coyotes, and the
evident futility, thus far, of all of them combined to completely check
the increase of the species, leads naturally to the consideration
of means of preventing their depredations. Could domestic animals
be entirely protected, the coyotes would return to their original
beneficial occupation as scavengers and destroyers of noxious rodents.

The plan that at once suggests itself is that of fencing against them.
This means of protection from wild animals has been long in vogue in
the Australian colonies and in South Africa. In Australia rabbits,
dingoes, and some species of kangaroos are successfully kept out of
pastures and crops by the use of wire nettings. In Cape Colony jackals,
particularly the red jackal (_Canis mesomelas_), are a great hindrance
to sheep and ostrich farming, and the success attending the use of wire
netting in Australia led to the introduction of similar fencing into
South Africa. The result has been highly gratifying. While the cost of
the fencing is high, the advantages from its use have been regarded as
more than compensating for the outlay. Mr. T. T. Hoole, president of
the Upper Albany (Cape Colony) Farmer's Association, in a paper read
at a meeting of that society[H] gives details of ten years' experience
with jackal-proof fencing. Among its advantages to sheep growers he
names:

  1. Decreased cost of herding.

  2. Increased value of the wool, about 3 cents per pound.

  3. Increased number of lambs reared.

  4. Increased value, owing to early maturity and condition of stock.

  5. Less liability to contagion from scab.

  6. Reduced death rate.

  7. Additional security of the flock.

  8. Improved condition of pasturage as against deterioration.

[Footnote H: Agr. Jour. Cape of Good Hope, vol. 25, pp. 560-563, 1904.]

The last item alone he regards as more than repaying the entire cost
of erection. Under the system of herding on the open veldt it becomes
necessary to protect from wild animals by driving the sheep to a
kraal for the night. In the vicinity of the kraal the ground is soon
trodden bare, and deep parallel paths are worn in the surface. In a
few years the torrential rains wash the paths into what are called
'sluits'--similar to the 'arroyos' of our own Southwest.

In the western part of the United States the practice of keeping sheep
in vast herds has resulted in much deterioration of the ranges, due to
overcrowding, and the cost of herding has absorbed much of the profits
of sheep raising. The process of withdrawing lands for homesteads and
the various reservations has diminished the free range and increased
the crowding, until flock owners for their own protection have been
compelled to purchase lands for range purposes. The day of free
pasturage on public lands is fast passing, and with private ownership
of ranges, fencing must be resorted to to confine the flocks. The
additional expenditure necessary to make the fences proof against
coyotes would be inconsiderable when all the advantages are properly
weighed.



INVESTIGATIONS CONCERNING COYOTE-PROOF FENCING.


The Biological Survey has undertaken an investigation of the
feasibility of successfully fencing against the coyote. If a
coyote-proof fence of sufficient cheapness and durability to be
practicable can be brought into general use for pasturage, there is
no reason why the sheep industry in the west should not be revived
and greatly extended. If such a fence should at the same time prove
efficient against dogs, the benefit would extend to the whole country
and result in an enormous increase of the productive resources of our
farms. A coyote-proof fence would prove valuable, even if its use were
restricted to corrals and small pastures for ewes during the lambing
season.

The writer, under instruction from the Chief of the Biological Survey,
spent several weeks in the field during October and November, 1904,
making such investigations as were possible during the limited time
at his disposal. For the purpose of testing the ability of coyotes to
pass over or through fences a unique experiment was made. The place
selected was Chattanooga, Comanche County, Okla. South of the town lies
the great Pasture Reserve, a large area practically without fences to
interfere with the chasing of wolves. Since coyotes were abundant and
the cowboys skilled in their chase, it was not difficult to procure the
needed animals in an uninjured condition.

The experiment was made with all the forms of fence that could possibly
be obtained or built with the limited resources of a new country. A
long lane was first built, with sides 7 feet high, made with poultry
netting of a small mesh. Fourteen cross fences of heights from 30 to 66
inches and of various designs were built at intervals along the lane.
They were arranged so that the coyotes, introduced at one end of the
lane, should have presented to them gradually increasing difficulty in
passing the fences. Two coyotes were released singly into the lane, and
their progress and methods of passing the cross fences were carefully
noted. One was badly frightened by the presence and noise of dogs and
men, but the experiment with the other was not made in public.

The coyotes ran with their noses close to the ground and seemed to have
no knowledge of jumping. Neither of them succeeded in getting over a
fence more than 36 Inches in height. The method was one of climbing,
assisted by the hind feet, rather than of jumping. All attempts to pass
the obstructions began with efforts to get the muzzle through openings.
If the entire head could be thrust through and there was enough room
for the shoulders to spread out laterally, the whole wolf was able to
follow. Both went through rectangular openings, 5 by 12 inches and 5 by
8 inches, but the larger animal failed to pass a mesh 5 by 6 inches.
The smaller animal went through an opening 4 by 12 inches and another
5 by 6 inches. Had these openings been triangular in form the animal
could not have passed through.

The following conclusions were drawn from the experiments:

1. Prairie coyotes will not willingly jump over a fence above 30 inches
in height.

2. They will readily climb over fences built of horizontal rails or
crossbars, especially in order to escape from captivity.

3. Barbed wires do not deter them from crawling through a fence to
escape. Whether they would go through a closely built barbed wire fence
to attack sheep or poultry is still an open question.

4. Woven wire fences should have meshes, when rectangular, less than 6
by 6 inches to keep out coyotes. For such fences triangular meshes are
much better than square ones.

5. In fencing against coyotes with woven fences care must be used to
see that there are no openings at the ground through which the animals
can force themselves, since they are more likely to crawl under a fence
than jump over it.

In the experiments the animals, under some excitement, were attempting
to escape from confinement. In the judgment of the writer, the
experiments are insufficient to determine what a coyote would do if the
conditions were reversed and, impelled only by the stimulus of hunger,
he were attempting to enter an inclosure built of these fences. The
barriers would surely be far more formidable. Experiments with certain
types of fence, with sheep inclosed within them, and in a country
with wolves as plentiful as they are at Chattanooga, would be far more
conclusive in establishing a safe basis for practical recommendations
to farmers.

The writer interviewed a number of farmers in Kansas who have had
experience with poultry and farm animals in coyote-infested country.
Several of them had for some years been using for corrals and small
pastures woven wire fences, and had found those from 57 to 60 inches
high entirely coyote-proof. These fences have triangular meshes and
are of sufficient weight to be suitable for all kinds of stock. Such
a fence, if set with the lower edge on the ground and anchored down
where necessary, can safely be recommended as coyote-proof. Their cost,
however, is possibly too great to bring them into general use for sheep
pastures. Where land is valuable and pastures of the best, they will
prove economical, for they have the merit of being both dog-proof and
coyote-proof. Dogs, both large and small, that by chance get inside the
inclosures are unable to get out, and have to be let out by the gate.

Between these rather expensive fences and the cheapest form that may
be found efficient many grades may exist. In experiments to determine
the efficiency of any form it is necessary to consider the familiarity
of the animals with fences in general. In a new country a very simple
fence might be ample at first to keep out wolves, but ultimately would
prove insufficient.

Mr. T. T. Hoole, of Cape Colony, Africa, in the paper already quoted,
gives the following experience in determining upon a jackal-proof fence:

  My first importation of 2 foot 6 inch netting served its purpose for
  a year or more, when I found the jackals as troublesome as over.
  The addition of a single barbed wire assisted for a time: but after
  some years of experience and comparing notes. I found that nothing
  short of a 3-foot netting and four barbed wires would be effective.
  I have given the above particulars of my experience as a warning to
  the inexperienced, that half measures are simply a waste of money and
  that badly erected fences, although effective for a time, will end in
  disappointment and failure.

Mr. Hoole has 18 miles of the fence just described, while a neighboring
stockman has 45 miles built. The cost, including labor, when built of
the host material--sneezewood posts and kangaroo netting--was estimated
at £106 per mile--about $500. This fence was designed for ostriches,
cattle, springboks, and sheep: a fence intended for sheep alone could
be built for less. Materials and labor are both much more expensive
than in the United States. A fence similar to that described by Mr.
Hoole could be built in most parts of the West for about $200 to $250
per mile.

A writer in the Nor' West Farmer states that when he first began
sheep raising in Manitoba a 2-strand barbed wire fence was a complete
barrier to the coyotes, but that in less than two years they became
used to it and would go under or between the wires without hesitation.
More strands were added without effect, until a woven wire fence was
adopted, which proved satisfactory.

In South Africa three types of fence have been in use for protection
against jackals, and each has advocates among the farmers. The cheapest
is built of strands of barbed wire placed close together and stayed at
intervals by light strips of wood fastened to the wires by staples.
In the second form the staying is done by light, smooth wire woven in
by machinery, involving more labor in the building. The third type is
that recommended by Mr. Hoole. It is more expensive, but seems always
to have stood the test of experience. The others have not always been
satisfactory, but their advocates claim that the fault has been in
construction and not in design. The jackals have entered the inclosures
through openings at the ground.

Mr. J. H. Clarke, of Laytonville, Mendocino County. Cal., has for
several years succeeded in fencing coyotes from his sheep range. In a
letter to the Chief of the Biological Survey, dated March 1, 1905, he
describes the fence and relates his experience:

  The fence, inclosing nearly 4,000 acres, consists of redwood pickets
  6 feet long driven into the ground 1 foot and leaving spaces or
  cracks not over 4 inches wide; posts 8 feet long and driven 2 feet,
  projecting 1 foot above the pickets; two barbed wires stapled to the
  posts 5 inches above the pickets and the same distance apart. These
  should be on the outside of the posts. The pickets are driven evenly
  by using a slat as a guide at the bottom and a line at the top. One
  barbed wire is placed at the bottom on the outside to prevent digging.
  The pickets are fastened to a No. 9 cable wire with a No. 13 wrapping
  wire. The posts are set 12 feet apart, or less, according to the
  surface--at top and bottom of each rise or indentation.

  Where gulches or small streams are crossed boxes and gates are put in.
  Where larger streams are encountered a dam is first put in and the
  gate so swung as to rest on or against the dam head in the dry season.

  The cost of construction varied from $320 to $400 per mile. Galvanized
  wire was used, and of the barbed the thickest-set four-pointed wire
  obtainable. If four-point wire could be had, with sharp points set not
  over 2 inches apart, the top wire might be dispensed with.

  While this fence was begun in 1897, it was net finished until three
  years ago. It was partly experimental at first, and at the end of
  the second year only that portion of the range used for lambing was
  inclosed with a coyote-proof fence. We do not know that a coyote has
  ever scaled or jumped it. A very large coyote that got in through an
  accidentally 'propped' floodgate, though chased by dogs all day, could
  not be made to jump out, even when cornered. Considering the steep,
  wild, and broken nature of the country, with several 'slides' in the
  fence that could not be avoided when building, and which move and
  displace the fence during hard storms, it is net surprising that a few
  coyotes have gotten in. Fortunately, partition fences have aided in
  the capture of those before much damage was done. Two obstacles are
  encountered in keeping up this fence--trespassers, who cut or break a
  picket to get through, and slides.

  Coyotes are very persistent, and when they see young lambs on the
  opposite side will follow the fence for miles, trying to find a hole.
  * * * None have gotten in this season.

  When we began to fence against them the coyotes wore literally driving
  sheep out of the country. * * * Horses and cattle have taken their
  places, but return less than half the profit sheep did prior to the
  coyote's inroads. Excessive rains in winter and irregularity of
  landscape preclude the practicability of close herding. With us it was
  either abandon sheep or fence the pest out. Fortunately we adopted the
  latter.

While the fence used by Mr. Clarke is expensive, the complete success
of his experiment is of much interest. In most parts of the West woven
wire would be cheaper than pickets and would require less labor in its
erection. Where the land is as uneven as that just described, the use
of woven wire may be impracticable.

Mr. D. W. Hilderbrand, of California, who has built coyote fences for
ranchmen in the San Joaquin Valley, recommends a 3-inch mesh woven wire
fence 36 to 40 inches in height, with two barbed wires on top, 5½
inches apart, and one at the bottom. He recommends that the posts be
set 20 to 30 feet apart.

From data now available it seems reasonably certain that a fence
constructed of woven wire with a triangular mesh not over 6 inches
across, and of a height of 28 to 42 inches, supplemented by two or
three tightly stretched barbed wires, would prove to be coyote-proof.
It is difficult to make exact estimates of the cost. Woven fences
differ in weight, price, and durability, and freight charges on
materials depend on the distance from distributing points. The cost
of posts and labor varies much. An estimate based on so many variable
factors is of little value, but an average of $200 per mile would
probably allow the use of the best materials.

Further experiments with wire fences will be made by the Biological
Survey in cooperation with sheep growers in the West, and the results
will be given to the public as early as practicable. The matter
is one of great economic importance, and the Survey will welcome
correspondence with persons interested in the subject.


       *       *       *       *       *


Transcriber's Note


The total number of coyotes in the table on page 10 was changed to
match the sum of the numbers in the table.





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