A recent social media post by an area farmer has shed light on an issue that is affecting his farm and possibly others. Josh Roos farms near the Stower Seven Lakes Trail between 140th Street and 150th Street. He currently warned trail users that a wolf had been spotted on the trail headed into his farm’s pastures. He has also had a pack of approximately 15 coyotes on his property.
Roos shared his farm is recently having issues in its big pasture. He said, “We’ve lost two calves recently to coyotes and wolves. To protect our cattle, we’ve brought them all inside the barn and keep them in there all the time.” They also have three groups of hunters trapping and hunting the pack of 15 coyotes that have been seen in the pasture.
According to Kevin Morgan, a Wildlife biologist for the WDNR, coyotes are a medium sized canine, usually 25-45 pounds that feed on small mammals, such as rabbits and mice, and birds. “They will also eat deer on occasion but they are primarily a small animal predator. Coyotes are very adaptable and can live almost anywhere. The mixed field/forest habitat of Polk and Barron counties provides plenty of food and cover for them and they seem to be thriving,” said Morgan
He said for the most part, coyotes and wolves are not a threat to livestock but occasionally predation does occur. Morgan said, “Keeping livestock closer to the barn can help prevent predation. Not pasturing woods is another. There are livestock guarding dogs that can help prevent predation and studies have shown that donkeys can be effective at protecting as well.”
“We have had coyotes in the area of our farm for over 15 years now. When we started having problems, we bought a donkey to help protect our cattle. They are great protectors and help keep coyotes, wolves, and bears outside the pasture and away from our cattle. Our current donkey, Andy, is a little high strung, so he needs to stay in our small pasture because it has a better fence to keep him in,” said Roos.
Roos’s only advice to someone with issues would be to find someone to hunt them, and/or buy a donkey to protect your livestock. “I’ve seen a lot of coyotes and wolves the past few years. It seems to me they’re becoming much more bold and less afraid to go near people or buildings than they used to be” Roos said.
Morgan said coyotes can be harvested year-round and landowners are within their rights to shoot coyotes if they are predating livestock and even if they are not. “If wolves are depredating livestock, the landowner should call the U.S. Department of Agriculture-APHIS Wildlife Services. APHIS–Wildlife Services will take appropriate steps to reduce or eliminate livestock depredation in a nonlethal fashion. If this is not effective or not practical, they may remove the animals,” said Morgan.
He said coyotes seem to have increased statewide and wolves are doing well relatively speaking but there are really only about 900-1000 in the state at this time of year. “That is a pretty low density for a large state like Wisconsin, even if they are primarily in the northern third. They do make their way down here on occasion and there are a few packs in the northern parts of these counties but none known in the southern parts. Occasionally some dispersing individuals will pass through various parts of the counties but they often do not stay long,” said Morgan