Coyotes Causing Problems for Valley Farmers

By: Garrett Wymer Email
By: Garrett Wymer Email

Coyotes are increasingly becoming a problem on farms across the commonwealth, part of what a local trapper calls a "population explosion" of coyotes over the last 20 years.

Scott Painter says coyotes are here to stay. Painter has been trapping for 20 years, and he says now he sees more coyotes than ever.

"You can tell that we're under a real population explosion here in Virginia," he said.

And it is causing problems for farmers.

Extension agent Matthew Sponaugle said coyotes like to eat sheep, especially small lambs. But he said the problems for farmers do not stop there.

"Some people find them having trouble with their cattle," he said. "Not so much killing cattle, but more preying sometimes on younger calves within the first couple weeks. But also just stressing them out by traveling through the fields and causing a ruckus."

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Virginia farmers reported more than 200 animals killed by coyotes last year.

Painter owns Blue Ridge Outdoor Supplies in Elkton, which sells traps. He says he gets a lot of business because of the coyotes.

"So many people were calling every day, trappers from other states, and also many farmers and also homeowners were calling and asking for information on how to control that population," Painter said.

Sponaugle said there are steps you can take to help prevent coyotes from coming onto your land. A good fence may not always keep coyotes out, but it is a good place to start, he said.

"The good thing about a well-maintained perimeter fence is you can determine the holes that they are coming in through," he said. "And once you determine those ways in and out of the fields the coyotes are using, it opens the door to use things such as snares and other devices to catch them."

Snares and traps, Painter said, are an important part of keeping the number of coyotes in control, and keeping control of farmers' animals.

"It is healthy to the livestock and to the deer population in Virginia," he said.

In Virginia there is a continuous open season to trap coyotes, which means you can trap them year-round. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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