University of California

Targeting alphas can make coyote control more effective and socially acceptable


Michael M. Jaeger
Karen M. Blejwas
Benjamin N. Sacks
Jennifer C. C. Neale
Mary M. Conner
Dale R. McCullough

Authors Affiliations

M.M. Jaeger is Project Leader, USDA Wildlife Services/National Wildlife Research Center, stationed at UC Berkeley; K.M. Blejwas is Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management (ESPM), UC Berkeley; B.N. Sacks is Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Nematology, UC Davis; J.C.C. Neale is Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Environmental Toxicology, UC Davis; M.M. Conner is Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Biology, Colorado State University; D.R. McCullough is Professor of Wildlife Biology and holds the A. Starker Leopold Endowed Chair, ESPM, UC Berkeley.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 55(6):32-37. DOI:10.3733/ca.v055n06p32. November 2001.

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Research at the UC Hopland Research and Extension Center (HREC) has improved our understanding of how to reduce sheep depredation while minimizing the impact on coyotes. Analysis of a 14-year data set of HREC coyote-control efforts found that sheep depredation losses were not correlated with the number of coyotes removed in any of three time scales analyzed (yearly, seasonally and monthly) during corresponding intervals for the next 2 years. Field research using radiotelemetry to track coyotes supported and explained this finding. For example, in 1995, dominant “alphas” from four territories were associated with 89% of 74 coyote-killed lambs; “betas” and transients were not associated with any of these kills. Relatively few coyotes were killing sheep, and these animals were difficult to capture by conventional methods at the time of year when depredation was highest. However, selective removal of only the problem alpha coyotes effectively reduced losses at HREC.


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Jaeger M, Blejwas K, Sacks B, Neale J, Conner M, McCullough D. 2001. Targeting alphas can make coyote control more effective and socially acceptable. Hilgardia 55(6):32-37. DOI:10.3733/ca.v055n06p32
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