Utah State University
Increased access and understanding of non-lethal tools
 to reduce depredation to sheep and goats

Predators, such as cougars and coyotes, are responsible for 39% of sheep and lamb losses and 32.5% of goat and kid losses annually (NASS 2010). Livestock depredation has likely intensified in recent years as mammalian predators, such as grizzly bears, cougars, and wolves have increased in number and expanded their ranges. Lethal removal of predators can reduce losses but is often reactive, after losses have already occurred, and opposed by animal rights groups that influence sentiments of the general public. Non-lethal tools offer proactive measures to reduce depredation risk, which will strengthen and enhance the production of small ruminants and small ruminant products. However, non-lethal tools are often underutilized because of high up-front costs, intensive manpower or time associated with implementation, and a lack of knowledge on how and when to use them. Further, information on non-lethal tools is often outdated, region- or species-specific, or provided by organizations that producers do not trust. There is a need for better dissemination of new information on non-lethal tools. This project will provide access and understanding of how non-lethal tools can reduce risk of depredation to small ruminants by creating hands-on training workshops and a print and online manual.

Project Objectives

The objective is to create a manual and host at least six hands-on workshops throughout the USA on non-lethal tools to reduce risk of depredation to small ruminants. The manual and workshops will improve livestock producers’ abilities to access and use such tools. The most recent scientific information will be used. The focus will be on providing information of how non-lethal tools work, what works for which species, and under what circumstances each works best. Differences will be noted across regions, along with across livestock operation types. For example, what may work well on western open range to protect against sheep depredation by wolves will differ from what will work best for an eastern farm with coyote or bear depredations on goats. Workshops will also provide opportunities for information exchange among livestock producers; each workshop will provide opportunities for producers to share and disseminate information on non-lethal tools and techniques that have been effective for them. This will improve industry communication on the use of non-lethal tools that reduce depredation risk.

Funding was received by the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center to create and distribute a manual on nonlethal and lethal tools available to reduce depredation and to disseminate this information through meetings with sheep and goat ranchers. To date, the project has made significant progress. There were set backs early on with identifying the appropriate graphic design artist that delayed progress, but these have now been resolves.

Specific actions completed include:

• Information has been disseminated at a workshop for ranchers in Oregon;

• All relevant data have been collated for the manual;

• All relevant images have been collated for the manual;

• A graphic designer was hired to design the manual;

• A full draft of the manual has been designed (example mock up below); and

• A contract has been set up and (paper) materials ordered for printing the manual.

The next steps are to have other scientists review the draft manual for accuracy and editing before it is printed. The manual will be printed this fall with copies being distributed at the ASI conference in January, along with other relevant venues over the winter. The manual will also be made available in an online format.