1996 Shepherds Survey


Tom McConnell, Farm Management Specialist; Dave Davis, Extension Agent, Mineral County; John McCutcheon, Extension Agent, Greenbrier County; Bill Shockey, Extension Agent, Preston County ; Howard Scott, Extension Agent, Wood County; Craig Abbott, United States Department of Agriculture, Animal Damage Control, Summer Intern; Mac McConnell, Wool Pool Volunteer

This study, a follow-up to the 1995 Predator Survey, was designed to answer two basic questions: 1) What degree of predation are the three counties, identified with the greatest sheep numbers and the highest level of predation, experiencing one year later? and 2) Are there other areas (groups of counties) that are experiencing extreme predation?

Pendleton, Pocahontas, Randolph

The National Agricultural Statistics Service estimates that the sheep and lamb population in these counties has fallen from 28,100 in 1995 to 24,900 in 1996. This represents a decrease of 3,100 head or 11%.

This study involved face-to-face interviews with the owners of 19.5% of the sheep in the three counties.

Pendleton County
Lamb Losses @ $75/head Ewe Losses @ $100/head
Coyote Dogs Bears Coyote Dogs Bears
1657 257 29 143 21 36
$124,285 $19,285 $2,143 $14,300 $2,100 $3,600
Total County Predation $165,713
Predation Cost Per Ewe Sheared $11.84

 

Pocahontas County
Lamb Losses @ $75/head Ewe Losses @ $100/head
Coyote Dogs Bears Coyote Dogs Bears
483 30 53 35 30 4
$36,196 $2,283 $3,913 $3,500 $3,000 $400
Total County Predation $49,292
Predation Cost Per Ewe Sheared $6.75

 

Randolph County
Lamb Losses @ $75/head Ewe Losses @ $100/head
Coyote Dogs Bears Coyote Dogs Bears
546 17 13 0 54 129
$40,437 $1,250 $975 $0 $5,400 $12,900
Total County Predation $60,962
Predation Cost Per Ewe Sheared $12.97

This data suggests that the three counties identified sustained $275,967 worth of predation from all sources and $218,718 from coyotes (this figure represents 79% of the total).

These three counties' sheep population of 26,000 breeding ewes represents 58% of the surveyed population of 44,775.

Pendleton County experienced the greatest dog and coyote predation, but Randolph saw the most damage from bears.

The second group of counties to be surveyed included those recognized as experiencing significant damage, but not having an organized program of abatement beyond individual efforts.

The Lewisburg wool collection area, primarily Greenbrier and Monroe counties, is included in this group. The Moorefield pool collection area was also included in this second group. This area included Hardy, Grant, Mineral, and Hampshire counties.

Lewisburg Wool Pool Area
(Greenbrier and Monroe Counties)
Lamb Losses @ $75/head Ewe Losses @ $100/head
Coyote Dogs Bears Coyote Dogs Bears
552 98 16 9 61 0
$41,420 $7,330 $1,193 $900 $6,100 $0
Total County Predation $56,943
Predation Cost Per Ewe Sheared $11.86

The respondents in this survey group indicated a greater acceptance of a check-off program where shepherds would be assessed, on a per ewe basis, to help defray part of the cost of a professional trapper. This group thought a fee of $2 per head would be appropriate. Every other group in this survey indicated that $1 was more in line.

Petersburg Wool Pool Area
(Grant, Hardy, Mineral and Hampshire Counties)
Lamb Losses @ $75/head Ewe Losses @ $100/head
Coyote Dogs Bears Coyote Dogs Bears
106 44 100 39 100 33
$7,916 $3,333 $7,500 $3,900 $10,000 $3,300
Total County Predation $35,949
Predation Cost Per Ewe Sheared $4.61

The next 3 groups of counties surveyed included the rest of the state except the Waynesburg, Pennsylvania pool that included Monongalia and most notably Marshall County. There was not sufficient manpower to accomplish this task. These county pool areas have not been recognized as having a widespread or unusual predation situation.

Weston Wool Pool Area
(Lewis, Marion, Harrison, Upshur, Doddridge and Nicholas Counties)
Lamb Losses @ $75/head Ewe Losses @ $100/head
Coyote Dogs Bears Coyote Dogs Bears
0 0 0 0 19 0
$0 $0 $0 $0 $1,900 $0
Total County Predation $1,900
Predation Cost Per Ewe Sheared $.92

 

Terra Alta Wool Pool Area
(Preston and Barbour Counties)
Lamb Losses @ $75/head Ewe Losses @ $100/head
Coyote Dogs Bears Coyote Dogs Bears
0 20 2 2 45 2
$0 $1,470 $150 $200 $4,500 $200
Total County Predation $6,520
Predation Cost Per Ewe Sheared $2.33

 

Ripley/Parkersburg Wool Pool Area
(Jackson, Wood, Kanawha, Tyler, Putnam, and Roane Counties)
Lamb Losses @ $75/head Ewe Losses @ $100/head
Coyote Dogs Bears Coyote Dogs Bears
24 9 0 14 33 0
$1,810 $647 $0 $1,400 $3,300 $0
Total County Predation $7,157
Predation Cost Per Ewe Sheared $4.48

Summary

Predators have cost the shepherds in West Virginia $384,436. Coyotes account for 72% of that total or $276.264. Dogs were reported as causing damage in every survey area and account for $71,898 worth of damage or 19% of the state total.

The survey area centered in and around Weston experienced neither coyote nor bear damage. The Preston/Barber survey area reported two ewes and no lambs lost to coyotes.

The average predation loss per head in this study was computed at $8.59. Randolph ($12.97), Pendleton ($11.84), and Greenbrier/Monroe ($11.86) survey areas were above that figure. Pocahontas County was slightly below that average. Preston/Barbour and the Jackson/Wood wool pool survey area were nearly half the state average. The Weston survey area enjoyed the lowest per head predation figure of less then a dollar.

 

Coyote $276,264
Dog $71,898
Bear $36,274
Total $384,436

1996 Shepherds Survey - Numerical Summary

County Lamb Losses @ $75 Ewe Losses @ $100 Total County Sheep/Predation County $Per Head
  Coyote Dog Bear Coyote Dog Bear    
Pendleton 1657 $124,285 257 $19,285 29 $2,143 143 $14,300 21 $2,100 36 $3,600
$165,713

$11.84
Pocahontas 483
$36,196
30
$2,283
53
$3,913
35
$3,500
30
$3,000
4
$400

$49,292

$6.75
Randolph 546
$40,437
17
$1,250
13
$975

0
54
$5,400
129
$12,900

$60,962

$12.97
Greenbrier
Monroe
552
$41,420
98
$7,330
16
$1,193
9
$900
61
$6,100

0

$56,943

$11.86
Grant
Mineral Hardy
Hampshire
106
$7,916
44
$3,333
100
$7,500
39
$3,900
100
$10,000
33
$3,300

$35,949

$4.61
Marion
Doddridge Upshur
Harrison Nicholas Lewis


0


0


0


0

19
$1,900


0


$1,900


$0.92
Preston Barbour
0
20
$1,470
2
$150
2
$200
45
$4,500
2
$200

$6,520

$2.33
Jackson
Wood
Kanawha Tyler
Putnam
Roane

24
$1,810

9
$647


0

14
$1,400

33
$3,300


0


$7,157


$4.48
  $252,064 $35,598 $15,874 $24,200 $36,300 $20,400

 

Total Coyote Damage $276,264
Total Dog Damage $71,898
Total Bear Damage $36,274
State Predation Loss, Per Head $8.59
WV Total Sheep Predation $384,436