GUELPH — Predators killed 2,347 livestock in one year, from April 2021 to March 2022, and farmers collected over $893,000 from the province in compensation. That’s up from the 1,938 livestock killed by predators one year earlier, but short of the nearly 2,500 farm animals lost to predation in 2020.
Coyotes again accounted for the majority of claims in 2022, inflicting 1,411 kills. Farm-animal prey taken by the coyote included 700 sheep, 445 cattle, 237 poultry, 12 goats, 7 deer, 3 elk, 4 horses. Coyotes also killed an emu, a donkey and a llama.
After coyotes, last year’s next deadliest predator, based on head count, was the weasel — killing 231 poultry. Foxes exacted the third highest death toll, killing 206 poultry and 4 sheep.
Coyotes were also the most costly predator, generating almost $722,000 in payouts to farmers through the Ontario Wildlife Damage Compensation program. They were followed by bears, which triggered just over $70,400 in compensation, most of that involving beehive damage (there’s no headcount for dead bees). Bears also killed 12 cattle and 2 sheep.
Surprisingly, ravens were the third most expensive predator for Ontario taxpayers last year. The birds, which typically attack newborn animals on pasture, killed 23 cattle and 44 sheep at a cost of $31,262.
Intriguingly, the current kill year reveals that the elusive cougar killed twice: a cow in Kenora district and one sheep in Lennox & Addington. The bobcat made a rare appearance on the kill list, picking off 150 poultry west of Thunder Bay. Wild elk killed three cattle in Ottawa (Carleton County).
Cattle accounted for the largest share of compensation paid out for killed livestock, at $573,466 for 509 head.
The annual stats are compiled by Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, which reimburses municipalities for farmer compensation claims.