Coyote kills costly in Oil Springs

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Coyotes have been feasting on a local sheep farmer’s flock and it is costing the Village of Oil Springs a lot of money.

Since May, 23 sheep have been killed by coyotes on Charles Fairbank’s land inside the village limits. It’s the first time in a decade there has been a problem he says.

“We’ve had a llama (which coyotes are afraid of) and we have had no kills whatsoever for 10 years prior,” he says. “We had an extensive problem before that.”

But after 10 years of guarding the flock, Fairbank says “the coyotes have figured out how to get around the guard animal.”

The landowner hired a trapper to stop the coyotes. “The trick is to get rid of the one coming in and doing the damage.”

Since the trapper has been on Fairbank’s land, the killing has stopped. But it hasn’t put an end to the village’s financial problem.

Farmers are entitled to the replacement cost of the animal killed under the provincial government’s Wildlife Damage Compensation Program. A qualified inspector comes out to the farm to make sure the kill was due to a wild animal and then the cash is paid out.

But it is up to the municipality to pay for the inspector; about $100 per visit. Only a third of that cost is reimbursed by the province.

So far, Oil Springs has spent about $660 on inspector’s visits.

Village council will invite a representative from the Ministry of Agriculture to a meeting to figure out what can be done.

“We need to at least look to see if it is cheaper to place a bounty on them or to hire a trapper,” says Councilor Kathy Gadsby.

– Heather Wright

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