Some farmers in Nova Scotia are crediting a coyote cull for the declining number of attacks during the past few years.
Maggie Perry has a happy herd of sheep at her farm in Hilden, but that wasn’t the story in 2009.
“When the coyotes started moving in, we didn't believe it until it happened to us. And then we went out one day and within a couple of days there was 46 of our sheep dead,” she said.
Perry hasn’t had a single coyote attack in the last two years. She chalks it up to more trapping in the area and special field lights that keep the animals away.
In 2010, Nova Scotia began paying trappers $20 per coyote pelt as part of a bounty program designed to reduce aggressive coyote behaviour.
There were several calls to bring in the bounty after the death of a Toronto singer in October 2009. Taylor Mitchell, 19, was killed by two coyotes while hiking the Skyline Trail in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
“You feel like you can sleep at night. Because when the coyotes are out there you don’t sleep,” Perry said.
The Sheep Producers Association of Nova Scotia says coyote problems are generally down, although there are still pockets where the animals remain an issue.
Trappers are also reporting lower harvests. Half the number of coyotes were caught last winter compared to two winters ago.
“We've had an active trapping program for the last couple of years to catch some of the coyotes,” said Gary Fisher, head of the Trappers Association of Nova Scotia.
“Some of it also could be food related, there's been a downturn in the rabbit population.”
He also credits Department of Natural Resources programs with educating people to not leave food around.
Still, some scientists say if the rabbit population rebounds as a result, then it could mean a coyote resurgence.
Perry, however, is more than pleased to see so many trappers in the province.
“Big role, big role,” said Perry. “I don't know where we'd be without them.”