October 26, 2007
October 26, 2007 - In 2004, more than one-third of U.S. sheep and lamb death losses were due to predator causes. This information comes from a report recently released by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's (APHIS) Wildlife Services and its National Animal Health Monitoring System. The report entitled Sheep and Lamb Predator Death Loss in the United States, 2004 is conducted every five years and is available at http://nahms.aphis.usda.gov/sheep/sheep_pred_deathloss_2004.pdf
A total of 600,300 animals (385,000 lambs and 215,300 sheep) were lost due to predator and non-predator causes in 2004, representing 9.4 percent and 5.6 percent of lamb crop and sheep inventory, respectively. Predator losses account for 37.3 percent of the total number of losses while non-predator losses represent 62.7 percent.
The report indicates that sheep and lamb losses due to predators have decreased from 368,050 in 1994 to 224,200 in 2004. A substantial factor that is not accounted for, however, is the number of lambs lost prior to docking.
In 2004, as in the 1994 and 1999 reports, a higher percentage of lamb losses (41 percent) than sheep losses (30.8 percent) was due to predators.
Coyotes accounted for the highest percentage of sheep losses in four of the five regions in 2004, equating to 51.7 percent of sheep deaths due to predators. The exception was in the southeast/other region, where dogs accounted for the highest percentage of predator loss. Coyotes also accounted for the highest percentage of death losses in lambs in 1994, 1999 and 2004 with 69.4 percent, 64.3 percent and 64.2 percent of total predator loss, respectively.
As mentioned earlier, lamb losses occurring before docking in the Pacific and West Central regions are not included in these estimates. While these numbers may be difficult to measure accurately, these losses account for a substantial portion of total lamb losses. Five states (Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana) publish state-level pre-docking losses. According to these reports, more than 61 percent of all lambs lost are lost to predators prior to docking.