Predator Control

Ag Biz News Column
Chad Gulley
County Extension Agent—Ag/NR
Smith County

 

Predator Control

            Predation is defined as the act of catching prey for food.  It is the natural process and is a necessary process for various species of wildlife to catch their food.  Predator management is often necessary around the farm or home when predators prey on our pets or livestock.  Predatory animals can be considered beneficial animals, pests, or both depending on the circumstances.

What can I do?  Identification of the predator species is the first step.  It is important to know what species of animal is causing damage to your property.  Many times wildlife will stay away and only prey in their habitat.  When their habitat is disturbed or they find a ready food source around our homes or farms, they may begin to cause damage.

An Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach is important as it is not the intent to destroy wildlife but to change the habit of these animals to move them away from the home to protect our pets and livestock.  It is always important to check with the Texas Parks and Wildlife on the legal status of any animal if it becomes necessary to take further action to protect your pets and livestock from these predatory animals.

What are some signs to look for around my home?  Visual confirmation of various species of predatory animals near your property like coyotes, foxes, bobcats, raccoons, skunks, opossum, feral hogs, and some bird species may indicate the species you may be dealing with.  Tracks, scats or fecal material, and hair on fences may also indicate a presence of predatory animals.

Many times people leave food out for pets for example our dogs and cats.  When the pet does not eat all the food, wildlife may see this as an opportunity to grab a quick, easy meal.  Livestock in small pens like our farm chicken coops can be a welcome invitation to some predator species.  When livestock are birthing their young, this can increase predatory animals in an area as well.  Control measures will vary from trapping to exclusion fencing.

With remote sensing cameras today, we can determine the species causing damage as well as when to set traps to have better success in trapping the animal species.  Traps and other control measures need to be used according to legal guidelines for the animal species.  It is also encouraged to visit with neighbors to inform them you have a predator problem and that you may use traps.  Informing your neighbors helps to keep their pets or livestock safe.

As winter approaches, some wildlife may seek shelter around your home, shed, or barn to protect them from the cold weather.  Seal off openings around sheds, homes, and barns to keep the wildlife out.  Wildlife are all around us and we do not even realize their presence in most cases.  It is only when they cause damage to our property, pets, or livestock that we realize their presence.

In nature the predator and prey relationship is a natural process.  Populations of both predators and prey are important in ecosystem management.  Again, check the legal status of any animal species you see necessary to control once they begin causing damage to your property and livestock.

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