By Lillian Bowe
A report from the county’s U.S. Department of Agriculture’s wildlife department shows an increase in the coyote population in Roosevelt County.
Reports from Roose-velt County’s USDA Wildlife Expert Cliff Ruppert has shown an increase in the number pups in a coyote’s litter. On average, a female coyote’s litter is three to four pups, but Ruppert reported that the litter size has increased to eight or nine pups since last year.
One of the reasons for the increase in coyote population has been the increase of the rabbit population, according to Brian Archuleta, Wildlife Services’ Ros-well district supervisor.
“When you have the predator’s source of food on the rise, the predator will rise as well,” Archuleta said.
For the past couple of years, the coyote and rabbit population had been low due to the drought. The damage done by coyotes on livestock from July 2013 to June 2014 was approximately $4,200.
Archuleta said that cost might rise due to the increase of coyotes, which usually causes damage to cattle during calving season around fall or early winter.
Patrick Kircher, Roosevelt County agriculture agent, said he is not surprised to hear there is an increase of coyotes in the area.
“I have been hearing them more often and have seen more signs of them around,” Kircher said.
When ranchers or farmers do have issues with the coyotes, the USDA wildlife services can help.
Archuleta said ranchers can call the county manager’s office, commissioners, the ag agency, or wildlife services directly to get help in dealing with coyotes.
Wildlife specialists will come out to the ranch or farm to assess what predator is causing the damage and then put out certain equipment to deal with the predator.
“Ranchers are busier than average people. They might not have time to deal with coyotes on their own,” Archuleta said.
Last year the wildlife services assisted 39 ranches, which included dealing with predators and prairie dogs.
Archuleta said the number of prairie dogs has stayed the same over the last couple of years, but wildlife services helps ranchers and farmers with removal of the animal.
“Prairie dogs can cause damage to fields and pastures,” Archuleta said.
Last year the prairie dog caused $2,200 in damage on ranches and farms.
Ruppert has expressed interest in hosting informational seminars on how farmers and ranchers can deal with prairie dogs later in the fall.
Archuleta said Roosevelt County is one of their most active sites, with producers utilizing the program often.
“The commissioners and the county in general are really appreciative of the work we do and show us support,” Archuleta said.