County’s Biggest Predator Problem are Coyotes

1 month ago

One daily flight out of the Central Wyoming Regional Airport in Riverton is not  your usual flight. No inflight cabin attendant, no movie, no restroom. Just a pilot and the county’s “Bio Science Technicians”, or predator control specialists, looking for coyotes. The fixed wing aircraft, kept at the airport’s General Aviation side, goes up seven days a week, morning to night, in search of the the predator that claims numerous calves and sheep every year on the range and at ranches. The coyotes are shot from the air.

“With the snow on the ground, it’s much easier to spot the coyotes,” said Tracy Frye, one of the hunters who spoke at last week’s Farm and Ranch Days in Riverton. They also had a booth in the trade show displaying hides of predators and other information  He’s been on the job here for some 33 years.  “If we don’t stand on them more domestic livestock are killed.”

Frey said his job, and that of fellow trapper Mac Crome, “is to try and stop the losses, especially before calving and lambing seasons.”

While the two go after every kind of predator, Frey said about 80 percent of the job is to eliminate coyotes. “We get calls on really everything,” he said, including crows and ravens. “Right now we’ve got about 5,000 crows/ravens at the Lander Landfill, he said. The trapper said Riverton folks will remember all the crows about five years ago in town and now they’re over in Lander. “We work to reduce their numbers to reduce the number of diseases they carry. They peck out the eyes of their victims and they’ll eat anything.”

When asked about wolves, Frey said they are not a problem here. “In the last two years, we had a few on the Lander Front, but problems we have from wolves are minuscule in comparison with the coyotes.”  Frey also said mountain lions are not a problem, “they mostly prey on wildlife.”

Another nuisance animal that the trappers deal with are beavers, who sometimes build dams on private property. “We do a lot of work with beavers.”

Frey said he and Crome also work on the Wind River Reservation. “We have a great relationship with the Tribes and, personally, I’ve been working there for 10-12 years,” he said. This is Crome’s first year on the job. He came up from Utah this year when our other long-time trapper retired. 

The total number of predators that the trappers eliminate from the landscape varies from year to year do to population cycles. “Some years we get 1,570 of ’em and other years only 360,” he said

When asked if he’s seen a lot of winter kill on his daily fights, Frey said no. “I haven’t noticed a lot of dead animals so far this winter.” What he has noticed, however, is that the sagebrush has “really been eaten up so far due to the snow covering other graze. 

 When investigating a kill site on the ground, Frey said it’s easy to know what animal was involved. “Most have a signature way to kill their prey, it’s like reading a map.”  Another way to distinguish if a predator is responsible for a livestock kill is to look for a hemorrhage under the hide. “If there is no hemorrhage, then it’s usually a natural death. When there is a hemorrhage, that indicates the livestock was killed by something in a struggle. 

Fremont County Government has a Predatory Animal Board that oversees the work of the trappers. Current members are Albert Herbst of Lysite plus Alan Sinner and and Victor Mosbrucker of Riverton. 




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