Beginning in August, farmers in eastern Virginia will have a new resource for protecting their animals from predation by coyotes and other predators. The Virginia General Assembly increased funding for livestock protection activities, allowing state and federal agencies to add a livestock protection specialist position to a program that has been successful in western parts of the commonwealth. Administered by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and USDA Wildlife Services, this program provided assistance to 150 livestock producers in 2012 who reported livestock losses, including 86 sheep farms, 61 cattle farms, and 3 goat farms.
Wildlife specialists assist livestock producers by providing information and training on husbandry practices and other non-lethal methods to help reduce predation, evaluating predator-killed livestock to identify the predator, and in some cases removing them locally. The program also conducted 17 educational programs during 2012 for livestock producers and the public about coyote ecology and coyote damage management.
Livestock producers experiencing damage from predators should contact the USDA Wildlife Services Program at 804-739-7739 or 1-866-4USDA-WS (1-866-487-3297).