A coyote pauses on the crest of a hill in western Wyoming during the spring of 2023. (Tim Mayo)

Wyoming will spend more than $4 million to kill coyotes, wolves, ravens, skunks and other “nuisance animals” in 2023-’24 — more than any previous fiscal year. 

Federal trapper Steve Moyles helped make the case for one portion of the expenditures May 18 in a presentation to the Wyoming Animal Damage Management Board. 

The common raven, he told board members, is a “nasty bird” that causes horrific injuries to young, defenseless cattle on calving grounds. 

“They peck navals, they peck eyes, they actually peck holes in joints of calves,” said Moyles, an employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program. “They’re just a nasty bird, and I’m pleased that we’re able to work on them — and I hope that continues.” 

Moyles made his remarks in support of the Wyoming ADMB funding the Lincoln County Predator Board to the tune of $235,000. He also explained his method of killing the opportunistic Corvus corax

“They’re just a nasty bird, and I’m pleased that we’re able to work on them.”

Federal trapper Steve Moyles

“I took 241 ravens with DRC-1339 [an avian poison], which is broadcasted with dog food,” Moyles said. “Very effective. I’m very impressed with how it works on ravens. It flat knocks raven numbers down.” 

Later, Jon Child, speaking for the Lincoln County Predator Board, expressed appreciation for Moyles’ raven-killing efforts. 

“Ravens are a major problem. Big time,” Child said. “They’re vicious. You come onto a lamb and it’s got its damn tongue gone. It’s still alive … but how the hell is he going to suck his mother?” 

Sporting a curved beak and a rakish headdress, the common raven is considered a nuisance by some and is often targeted by county predator boards despite being protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. (Pixabay public domain)

Child, as part of the same pitch to the ADMB, described his county board’s aerial culling operations, which were the subject of a federal law enforcement investigation into alleged violations of the Airborne Hunting Act. From Jan. 12 to April 6 of this year, he said, predator board-funded operations gunned down 401 coyotes and six wolves — five of them up the Grey’s River. 

“The ones that was in the Grey’s River is the ones that’s been flip-flopping back from Lincoln County to Sublette County,” Child said. “We had lady luck with us and caught them in there.” 

Equipped with $4.18 million in mostly taxpayer-sourced general-fund money for the year, the Wyoming ADMB voted to fund Lincoln County’s Predator Board and 18 other county predator boards about an hour later. Lincoln County’s allocation came in at $233,500, a 26% bump over its 2022-’23 funding level, $185,500. 

The ADMB had more money to work with this year than any year since the Wyoming Legislature created the statewide panel nearly a quarter century ago, according to Wyoming Department of Agriculture employee Jerry Johnson, who administers the board. In a typical year, ADMB funding runs around $3.5 million. In the leanest years about $2.5 million went toward predator control. One reason for the record funding, he said, is inflation — like any other inflation-influenced service, the cost of killing predators has gone up. 

Predator management districts around Wyoming received record levels of funding from the state’s Animal Damage Management Board. (Wyoming Department of Agriculture)

“It’s pricier to fly planes,” Johnson told WyoFile. “Most of these counties, they’re trappers have not had raises — some of them for 10 years.” 

Materials, vehicles, gas and aviation fuel all got pricier, he said. 

The Legislature, equipped with a surplus the last couple sessions, set aside $5.88 million for predator management for the two years between July 1, 2022 and June 30, 2024 when it completed the budget last year. 

Livestock producers also contribute to the ADMB’s war chest, supplementing the legislatively approved general-fund support. Any producer raising stock in an ADMB-funded county district pays a $1 per-head predator fee when they sell. Annually, Johnson said, the fees bring in about $1 million to the statewide board which then distributes the funds to the county districts.

Platte, Laramie and Sublette county boards don’t partake, Johnson said, and aren’t eligible for ADMB funds. Teton County, meanwhile, doesn’t have a predator board. But government-funded predator control is routine business in the vast majority of Wyoming and much of the rural western United States. 

The ADMB summarizes its spending in an annual report to the governor. As a general rule, Johnson said, almost all of the funding goes to “on-the-ground” operations — in other words, killing predators. 

Many county boards spend the majority of their effort and funds on trying to minimize the coyote population. 

In Washakie County, for example, the predator management board funded 180 hours of aerial gunning, according to its 2021-’22 annual report. Coyotes were the most-killed species in the district, with 426 animals plus four dens of pups targeted — far surpassing the 78 raccoons, 25 striped skunks, seven red foxes, four beavers, two great blue herons and one raven that county-funded federal trappers offed. Wildlife Services’ specialists verified in-district livestock damages totalled $1,406 over the same time period. 

Washakie County’s Predator Management District also received a big bump to its previous funding level at the ADMB’s two-day May meeting. In 2022-’23, the local board operated with some $169,000 in state funds — a total that jumped 47% to $248,500 for the 2023-’24 fiscal year. 

The $4.18 million ADMB allocated to county boards isn’t the last of funding that the statewide board will distribute in 2023. It will also grant an additional $200,000 — these funds routed from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department — on a project-by-project basis at the board’s June 16 meeting, Johnson said. 

Such Game and Fish-originated funds typically go to research and special predator-killing efforts aimed at protecting species like mule deer, pronghorn and sage grouse, he said. 

In the wake of this year’s especially deadly winter for pronghorn and mule deer, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is separately planning to provide yet more funding for coyote killing. Following the hard winter of 2016-’17, the agency spent $100,000 on aerial gunning over deer fawning grounds. That effort claimed 177 coyotes. 

Mike Koshmrl reports on Wyoming's wildlife and natural resources. Prior to joining WyoFile, he spent nearly a decade covering the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s wild places and creatures for the Jackson...

Join the Conversation


Want to join the discussion? Fantastic, here are the ground rules: * Provide your full name — no pseudonyms. WyoFile stands behind everything we publish and expects commenters to do the same. * No personal attacks, profanity, discriminatory language or threats. Keep it clean, civil and on topic. *WyoFile does not fact check every comment but, when noticed, submissions containing clear misinformation, demonstrably false statements of fact or links to sites trafficking in such will not be posted. *Individual commenters are limited to three comments per story, including replies.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Is there not a better way to use the funds more efficiently. Seems like if you are paying over $560 per coyote that you could provide some reward system for ranchers as a bonus to reduce the population. Other states give $100 per coyote and beaver with providing 4 paws per animal as proof. Much better than $560 thru gov. Means

  2. This is Wyoming. We kill predators and our tax dollars support it. If you don’t like it, there’s 49 other states you can choose from…

    1. You’re correct. This is Wyoming. We pride ourselves on fiscal conservatism, and common sense.

      So, a fiscally conservative, commonsensical individual might ask: how much money was saved in livestock production by spending $4M in taxpayer dollars? It’s a fair question.

  3. Appalling,
    It’s incredible that our state government will take the advice of some poorly informed ranchers. They are already welfare beneficiaries for getting the grazing permits on public land at such a low cost. Ravens don’t eat live stock.Coyotes eat mostly rodents. Quit wasting our tax dollars and and the lives of innocent predators. Keep the ecosystem in balance and look at the facts.

  4. The horror of misguided policy run amok. Poisoning ravens with laced dog food? Non target species? Great blue herons? This got to stop.

  5. As a life long Wyomingite and as long as I’ve known ranchers, everything is perceived as a threat. Wether it’s public land access, bikes, motorized vehicles, predators, scavengers, prairie dogs, snakes, wild horses and pretty much anything but commercial livestock. The rancher scarcity mindset is truly sad and destructive.

  6. I’ve never seen a Raven go after anything large they do a pretty good job cleaning up the roadkill

  7. As a former rancher and a Wy citizen it amazing to me all the people on here commenting on something they know nothing about! About the poor coyotes, and ravens….really have you ever seen a calf with no eyes or its stomach on the outside of its body still alive? Or lamb or calves mutilated or half eaten? Horses needing to be put down because they were ran threw fences and were bleeding to death? It’s easy to talk about something you know nothing about Wy is a vital part of Americas food It’s easy to feel sorry for little cuddly wolves, coyotes and other predators but wake up and step into the real world predators need to be kept in check. I ask you to think what it takes to bring that beef,lamb, food to your tables its a thankless job most days but an important job! Complain about tax money being spent on predator control but silent about it being spent on transgender medical for children, on a war in Ukraine we have no business being involved in yet we send them 100+ billion from a country thats being bankrupt be woke liberals time people look at the big picture!!!

    1. So please inform us, since you seem like quite an expert: did the spending of $4,000,000 taxpayer dollars result in >$4,000,000 in savings to the ranching industry?

      And yes, people have different priorities, and are allowed to do so. Wyoming ranchers are losing ground, but it’s not because of coyotes and ravens–it’s because we get our beef from outside the state.

      I know of a place where it’s easy to raise cattle. Droughts are few, and wolves, bears, and the like are fewer. That place is called Iowa. Please start raising cattle there. You can’t build a house near the airport, then complain about the noisy planes. Similarly, you can’t raise cattle in the wild, then complain there are other animals.

      And finally, if I may: please define “woke”. Does this simply mean something with which you disagree?

  8. Have the entire list of ranches along with public land that have government predator control available for hunters to contact with guaranteed access to hunt those coyotes at night with night vision and save some taxpayer dollars while adding to the local economy from out of state hunters.

    1. Ranchers act as if they’re put upon because it’s no longer 1950. They have a disproportionately large influence on “what stakeholders want” because…

      Because why, exactly? I don’t know.

  9. I would like to know if the use of DRC-1339 to kill ravens also kills any other animal that then eats the ravens? Such as raptors, owls, etc.

  10. I’m glad to see that Ravens are being thinned out, I am not a livestock producer. I raise hay to sell and I have seen ravens peck baby pheasants in the head to kill them and never eat one bite, just leave them dead in my field. I have also seen them do the same thing to baby sage grouse. They really are nasty birds as this article states.

  11. Use a few livestock guardian dog’s like Anatolian shepherds they may cost a bit more but in the long-run using poison dog food kill’s other wildlife that are not on the list of wildlife you want to kill just look into this breed of dog put spiked collars on them so their necks are protected.

  12. What a horrendous slaughter of creatures simply living their innocent lives on public lands. And then you puzzle over why diseases killing ungulates, or why tick-borne illnesses continue to spread. Greed has made you blind to common sense. Predators are the natural world’s gifts to us — they maintain a healthy natural environment, consuming pesky insects and rodents, culling the unfit, stabilizing prey populations and their potentially rapacious harm to vegetation and waterways. If your lambs and calves are endangered by predators on public lands, remove your commercial enterprise from public lands!! Stop using public funds to annihilate the creatures on our public lands that God created for our natural world’s, and our own, benefit!

  13. The Coyotes on our 1920 acres eat mostly rodents, the ravens eat about anything but I never see them going after anything large. Both are beautiful intelligent
    animals. Predators usually take prey that is small and easy to kill so they don’t risk being injured, it they are they could starve while waiting to recover. Some humans get their kicks killing animals for fun, a head on the wall, or no reason at all, then complain when animals eat to survive. Those of us that want to photograph and study animals should have just as much say about protecting animals as those that like to kill them. Consumers need to see the graphic details of how their wildlife is killed so they can have cheap meat. I think most Americans would pay more for meat and know that Gods creatures are not killed because they are forced to share their homes with livestock. Also stop using lead ammo, the wounded animals and gut piles get eaten by eagles and they also die. Public land belongs to the public, not a select group that considers it their personal killing grounds. The damage animals do is greatly exaggerated by those that want to justify their actions and act like a hero for killing an animal that is not all that different than our dogs. It was not that long ago that most birds of prey were shot on sight by the same kind of people that want to kill our predators today.

  14. Stop wasting tax payer money. Let the ranchers control the Wolf problem. A bounty on wolves and other problem predators would be way cheaper.

    1. Alternatively, recognize that you might have a cow or sheep eaten now and again if you’re trying to raise cattle and sheep in a landscape with things that eat cattle and sheep. Think of it as the cost for leasing public land for pennies on the dollar.

      Or, move to Iowa and ranch cattle. The wolf problem is solved there.

      For a bunch of Marlboro men who otherwise rage against the federal government, I find the entitlement and whining a tad rich.

  15. As a resident of Minnesota where the wolves are decimating our wildlife I applaud WY. Where do I send a contribution?

    1. Wolves are listed as a “threatened species” in Minnesota. Recreational hunting and trapping of wolves is illegal. Look elsewhere for why certain other species might be “decimated” according to your calculations.

  16. You spent tax payers money $4.2 million dollars to kill coyotes that’s unheard so ridiculous there are other less expensive ways to deal with the problem or is it really a problem man made problem learn to live within the ecosystem that’s all i have to say

  17. Just curious how the math works out. Has any one calculated this. If they spent 5,88 million dollars on 2 years of control, how much would they have spent if they gave market price to the ranchers for each calf, lamb, cow etc killed/maimed by these predators ?

  18. The animals were here first.

    I thought you all don’t like it when outsiders come in and change the culture?

    This time you’re the outsider.

  19. Just a waste of money Humans kill nature..liked when everyone was on lock down for covid…and the animals lived …and not controlled by humans killing everything….Don’t agree with this at all

  20. As stated so eloquently:

    “If there is one lesson that comes through strongly in the tortured history of predator control – and all resource management, for that matter – it is that the day of single-value management is gone. To hikers, campers, backpackers, and numerous groups of nature lovers, they (predatory animals) are as much a part of the variety and beauty of the American Outdoors as pine trees, lakes, red squirrels, and deer.”
    – Frederick H. Wagner. January 1975. Journal of Range Management

  21. Remember all the mass poisoning of wolves,bears, coyotes, wolverines, etc…in the 1930s? All for protection of sheep ranchers providing wool for garments in response to WWII overseas. Godamn profiteering.

  22. This makes me violently ill. So called pests are a vital part of nature and government spending this much money to kill our precious wildlife makes me very angry. Why don’t we start being sensible and use that money for human needs. Like education, health care, nutrition and drug treatment for our addicts
    Oh! And what about suicide prevention while we are at it. I have lived and worked many years in this beautiful state but I will never understand the reasoning behind much of the attitde toward mother nature.

  23. Robert, Rod, and Patrick, thank you for your thoughtful comments. As usual, many comment with emotion instead of reason. Landowners largely love their livestock, wildlife, and yes seeing predators, but within tolerable limits. Man is part of nature now, and whether we like it or not, your idea of nature regulating itself, no longer applies. A good share of what urban society does promotes an imbalance in the predator population (particularly birds) that lets them thrive artificially and without regard to what would naturally occur. They eat your trash, are no longer afraid of man, and ravage wildlife. If it were not for landowners advocating for predator control, you wouldn’t have any wildlife or songbirds or anything else. These same landowners that you vilify for wanting predators controlled are the same ones that pay taxes for all the goodies that you enjoy there in town like schools, roads, and all your other government-provided amenities. It is certainly a gracious agricultural community that seeks to feed such an increasingly ungrateful nation.

  24. We have a mess down here in Colorado with the coyote problems. In 1996 we lost trapping in our state, only cage traps allowed unless a special trapping permit is given. The coyotes have taken over even in states where trapping is permitted. Red fox have disappeared from agriculture lands and have made homes in towns and cities to avoid coyotes. Even bobcats are affected negatively when large number of coyotes are around. Controlling coyotes will increase other wildlife across the board. Glad to see the biologists in Wyoming are protecting their wildlife with coyote control.

  25. Glad to see that ADC is controlling these out of control populations,trapping and predator hunters also help the cause! This is why we live in this great state!

    1. John Carter below has the right idea. While I appreciate this article for highlighting the ignorant and hateful vitriol against highly sentient wildlife critical to the ecosystem, I am looking forward to seeing a follow-up inclusive of citations from non-consumptive subject matter experts in the field without clear spiteful biases. As an aside, I encourage anyone to spend time observing corvids (or canids, for that matter). Perhaps self-interest could be quelled a bit when time is taken to appreciate and study, versus cause needless suffering.

  26. It seems to me that what is forgotten is the role of ravens, coyotes, and wolves in the overall balance of nature. If I worried ravens were going to go after my livestock, I would engage in protective measures. Carnivores like wolves and coyotes cull sick and diseased animals. We have CWD issues and they are natural mechanisms to reduce spread of infection to deer and elk. All three of these species also clean up carrion and help control spread of disease.

    At our wildlife preserve, we respect all the birds and animals and their roles while restoring habitat and allowing them a place to be secure and do their thing.

    If we can’t live with nature, what business do we have living here?

    John Carter

    1. I grew up on a sheep ranch, believe me coyotes will sneak in anytime anywhere. I really believe the big attraction of the wolves to many is the feeling of control over other people and their lives as they have to actually deal with the wolves.

  27. I would like Wyofile to offer more balanced coverage for this issue of tax-supported predator control. This article made the perspective of trappers and USDA predator control officials very clear. Please have your reporter now tell the other side of the story now. I’d like to read about the science of predator control and about organizations that are working to change these policies such as Wyoming Untrapped. What are their arguments for a more humane, science-based and balanced approach?

    1. Expecting WyoFile to provide a balanced viewpoint is totally meaningless. They have their agenda, and in almost all cases, they promote it without any counterpoint perspective. This is a typical example.

    1. Thanks for the link, Jean. This is one non-lethal effort I hadn’t seen yet. There are other livestock ranchers doing similar. They get it! You don’t open up shop in wildlife territory, especially using public lands as an adjunct to the enterprise, then feel entitled to obliterate predator species. And Wildlife Services should be put in the trash heap where it belongs.

  28. This is a travesty and serious waste of money that could be used for so many beneficial purposes. There are many peer-reviewed scientific studies that show just how ludicrous “varmint control” is and how important predators are to a fully functioning and healthy ecosystem. Killing predators has long been a “religion” in Wyoming. It’s about time the myth of the only good preditor is a dead preditor dies a well-deserved death.

    1. Says the guy who I am certain, does not make a living from maintaining livestock. It’s always easy to criticize others that are well outside your own personal sphere of influence.. or maintenance of your family heritage, or even your paycheck that pays your bills next month.

      1. Well said, thank you. I doubt I will ever understand making our food producers less important than being able to see wolves.

        1. Wyoming’s contribution to the global food chain for humans is negligible. When the actual costs en toto of producing livestock in Wyoming with its semi-arid climate , high altitude, short growing season, lack of value added processing, and distance to market – then add in the subsidies and tax breaks – you quickly realize that a heckuva lot of agriculture in Wyoming makes no economic sense. The entirety of cattle and sheep production in Wyoming could disappear tomorrow, and the world would not miss it two weeks from now. The Ag Industry costs everyone more and contributes so little to the state GDP than people desparately want to believe. The real numbers belie that.

          1. Dewey, what exactly is your contribution to food production or GDP? What, besides words, do you produce that makes the nation better? I am sincere in this inquiry. I would respect whatever you do, and would appreciate the same consideration from you.

          2. I agree I’m from the Great Lakes region and most of the beef trucked to our area comes from south of the border it gets trucked to Laredo Texas and then cut up inside the Texas border so the USDA can put there seal of approval on the box so I’m very upset about Murdering predators on public land I say to heck with Beef all together give the high plains back too the Bison

    2. The culling of predators is just another government handout given to the welfare ranchers.

      The money spent on protecting privately owned livestock would’ve been better spent elsewhere. Welfare ranchers already have their handouts of government subsidies and dirt cheap leasing of public lands. At what point will these ranchers admit that it is the government and genral taxpayers that actually own their “family” ranches?

      Maybe these folks should find a different career if they can’t survive without all the governmental assistance.

  29. Why are my tax dollars going to support the ag industry? I don’t want coyotes and ravens killed. And poison dog food, really? Does anyone think ravens are the only thing that would eat the poisoned dog food. What else is dying because of this stupidity? Stop it!

  30. When will Wyoming learn ?
    If you kill a coyote with extreme prejudice , two coyotes will be born to take its place. When the last human on Earth is lying on the ground dying from apocalyptic climate change and pollution , a coyote will be sitting there grinning…
    Less facetiously, years ago I looked into this very situation of the Cost/Benefit ledger of Wyoming predator control. When I played ” Follow The Money ” with county, state, and federal agencies engaged in wholesale predator extermination with extreme prejudice, it penciled out to costing the taxpayers over $ 2,000 per coyote and a whopping $ 6,000 per Grey Wolf ( back when Wildlife (Dis)Services was the lead in exterminating wayward wolves ) . The bottom line costs of predator control VASTLY exceeded any real or imagined replacement costs of livestock lost. Face it, the Stockgrowers just plain hate predators and will use any means possible to hire hitmen to assassinate canines , big cats, and bruins. It isn’t reparations… it’s revenge.

    But using poisoned dog food to kill a few Ravens? That is beyond reproach. More like pure evil.
    When that last human is lying prone on his/her post-apocalypse deathbed, the coyote gloating over the scene will be joined by a raven , a crow, magpies, hawks, Golden Eagles, and on down the food chain.
    Wyoming and the Feds have yet to learn to work WITH predators, not against them. Predators are essential to ecosystems. Cattle and sheep are not.

    1. Who’s going to clean up all the roadkill on the highways if we kill all the Ravens and coyotes.

  31. Mike, your piece is fine, but it is unbalanced. Rather than repeating claims about livestock losses attributed to ravens and coyotes, how about a scintilla of objective, peer-reviewed data here? Of course federal trappers relate stories of “vicious” ravens. And for the record: the biological consensus is that gunning/trapping of coyotes is ineffective in reducing coyotes in the medium/long term. There are good biological reasons for this – infill from surrounding coyote populations.

    The predator control business is largely that: a business. An ignorant, biologically wasteful business.

  32. Wildlife management is always a balancing act. Balancing predator numbers–including people–with available prey requires ongoing efforts and funding. Same holds true for dealing with wildlife damage. It’s requires effort to keep wildlife damage within the tolerance levels of landowners and others who use the outdoors. I’m grateful for all forms of wildlife management, including predator and nuisance animal control, as it enhances our quality of life, while also ensuring we have healthy wildlife populations to enjoy. Something crucial to our Wyoming way of life.

  33. Killing Great Blue Herons, Foxes Nd skunks speaks of the Insanity of the money driven reason to kill. WYOMING needs to scrap and fire the killers who are only concerned with money. The indiscriminate killing Stinks. Another example of idiots in charge of wildlife. Stop the.killing and learn how stupid it is!!

  34. Sad,sad,sad! Only in Wyoming is money spent like that. Good news for livestock owners and government trappers. Why don’t you just flush the money down the toilet instead of using it for your citizens needs.

    1. Agree!!! Subsidizing the ranching industry with tax dollars!? Gasp! I thought ranchers were fiscal conservatives against government handouts… Wish I’d get a tax break on my business!?