While we recognize that coyotes and other animals are a continual problem to ranchers and farmers in the Imperial Valley, we have some concerns about the county's plan to hire an animal depredation specialist.
Coyotes, birds and rabbits combined caused $1 million in losses to sheep ranchers, aquaculture and farmers in the past year, and the problem reportedly is getting worse. Our concern is whether the problem is truly one to be addressed, and paid for, by the county.
While coyotes are predators and can legally be shot, engaging in wholesale slaughter does not seem to be a good solution. While the county could perhaps play a role in coordinating efforts, we don't feel a depredation specialist is the answer.
Country Supervisors Chairman Tony Tirado suggested the county work with state and federal wildlife officials, and said the sheep, fish and farming communities also need to cooperate. We agree. A concerted effort by those involved to solve their own problems, with county supervision or backing if necessary, might be a better answer. Whether it involves fences to keep coyotes out or coordinated hunting or snaring of rabbits, we believe cooperation can help reduce the problem.