DAMAGE IDENTIFICATION

Procedures for Evaluating Predation on Livestock and Wildlife

Carnivore predation on other species is a natural event that occurs throughout their range. In some cases, it may provide an essential part of control for some wildlife populations; however, it may be harmful to other wildlife populations and is detrimental to livestock production. In addition to livestock, native and exotic wildlife are lost to predators on both public and private lands, including game ranches and preserves. In determining the cause of these losses, the general criteria used to evaluate predation on livestock may be applied to other species.

Evidence of predation is normally present where large animals are killed but is frequently absent with small animals which may simply disappear without a trace. The presence of predators and predator sign in the area, in addition to hair, feathers and other remains in predator droppings (feces), even when simultaneous with livestock disappearance, are not sufficient evidence to confirm predation. Predators often scavenge animals dead of other causes and livestock can disappear in other ways.

Animal losses are easiest to confirm and evaluate if examination is conducted soon after losses occur. Examination of wounded animals and fresh kills is relatively simple. Carcass decomposition, which is rapid during warm weather, obliterates evidence. Scavenging birds and mammals also can eliminate evidence, frequently in a few hours.

In separating predation from other mortality factors, the following information may be required:

  1. Predator species present in the area

  2. Habits and signs of each predator species

  3. History of depredation problems in the area

  4. Normal and abnormal livestock appearance and behavior

  5. Common causes of livestock losses other than predators:
    a. Starvation and/or exposure
    b. Internal parasites
    c. Bacterial and viral diseases
    d. Pregnancy disease and other metabolic diseases
    e. "Hardware" disease caused by ingestion of nails, wire or other metal objects which penetrate walls
        of the digestive tract
    f. Bloat
    g. Suffocation
    h. Poisonous plants and moldy feeds
    i. Other poison sources such as chemicals and lead-based paints, or discarded batteries
    j. Lightning
    k. Snake bite
    l. Theft

In some instances, the causes of death are obvious; however, in many cases they may be obscure. When the cause of livestock loss cannot be readily determined, assistance may be necessary. Veterinarians can identify and treat internal parasites and other diseases which kill livestock. Where poisonous plants cause loss, county Extension agents and range specialists can help identify these plants and devise corrective management procedures. Poisoned animals may require treatment by a veterinarian.

Animal Health

Careful observation of livestock and range conditions can provide information useful in preventing death; thus, indications of ill health in live animals may aid diagnosis when dead animals are found. When the cause of loss is unknown or uncertain, a veterinarian's assistance in diagnosing the cause of death may help prevent further losses. Diagnostic laboratories may help determine the cause of death; these facilities are available in all states. Some animal diseases can be transmitted to humans and proper precautions always should be taken to prevent exposure during carcass and tissue sample examination.

External Appearance of Animal and Carcasses

Although hair or fleece length and density varies with livestock breeds, healthy animals normally have a coat that is glossy from natural oils and is "live" to the touch; their skin is soft and flexible. In contrast, unhealthy animals have dry, dull coats that are harsh to the touch. Extended periods of poor health cause their skin to become dry and less flexible.

Coat condition is more difficult to evaluate in sheep since there is wide variation in fleece length, diameter and density in different breeds. There is also great variation, resulting from diet and nutrition, in the amount of natural oils in the fleece. Range type, vegetation and weather conditions also can cause marked differences in wool color and appearance. For example, extended wet periods, particularly in forested areas, cause fleece darkening. Also, unshorn sheep in late spring and summer may have a ragged appearance from some wool loss, particularly where they range in brush and lose wool on snags.

An alert appearance of the eyes and ears of livestock normally indicates a healthy animal. Sunken eyes and drooping ears indicate poor health. In fresh carcasses of healthy animals, the eyes fill the sockets and are not sunken from dehydration; however, carcasses dehydrate and decompose rapidly in temperatures above freezing.

Normally, livestock feces are relatively firm and dry. Exceptions include young animals receiving large amounts of milk and adult animals on lush, green forage. High quantities of concentrates also will cause soft feces. This should not be confused with diarrhea, an unhealthy condition resulting from excessive quantities of concentrates, certain infectious diseases or diseases caused by internal parasites.

Animals that die from causes other than predation normally die on their side or chest with their legs folded under them. Animals which get on their backs and die of suffocation are one major exception. This occurs most often in sheep attempting to scratch by rolling on their backs. Those with long, dense fleece may be unable to right themselves. In this position, gas cannot escape from the rumen, which distends and compresses the lungs, causing suffocation.

Another common cause of death is gas distention of the rumen (bloat) which may be caused by ingesting excessive amounts of grain or by feeding on alfalfa, clover and certain other plants. Bloat should not be confused with excessive carcass distention caused by gasses formed during decomposition.

Carcasses should be examined for abnormal excretions, particularly pus or blood, from body openings (the eyes, ears, mouth, genitals and anus). Live animals and carcasses should be examined by a veterinarian if such abnormalities exist or are suspected.

The carcass should be examined for skull fractures, broken bones and other wounds. The chest and stomach cavities should be opened to check for internal injuries and hemorrhage.

Internal Carcass Appearance

Body Fat
Animals receiving adequate nutrition normally have deposits of white or yellow fat around the kidneys, heart and intestines and in the bone marrow. Animals that are sick or are receiving insufficient feed normally metabolize this fat to meet body needs, leaving a gelatinous red deposit in the bone marrow. Internal fat is metabolized first while fat in the bone marrow is metabolized last during starvation. Breaking the large leg bones permits examination of the bone marrow. Some caution is necessary in evaluating bone marrow fat deposits in healthy young animals making rapid growth. Their bone marrow may be red from extensive red blood cell production to meet body needs and may have little stored fat.

Intestinal Tract
The contents of the stomach and intestines are indicators of health. Normally, healthy ruminants (cattle, sheep, goats and other animals with multiple stomachs) older than weaning age will have a rumen (first compartment) that is one-third to one-half full of food. The rumen is not fully developed at birth, but the abomasum (fourth compartment) is fully functional. The abomasum is the functional stomach in nursing young and should contain milk. A small, empty rumen is normal in nursing young for the first 2 to 3 weeks. A mixture of milk and vegetation in the rumen is normal from then until weaning age when the rumen is fully functional.

Partially digested foods should be present through the rest of the gut and the feces (in the large intestine) should be relatively firm. Exceptions as noted earlier include animals on concentrates and lush green feeds.

When dietary contents such as excessive amounts of grain or poisonous plants are a possible cause of death, the contents of the stomach and intestines should be noted. Samples of the stomach contents should be taken for analysis if poisonous plants or other toxic agents are suspected.

Lungs and Respiratory Tract
Pneumonia is a relatively common cause of animal death and is evident in lung tissue by fluid accumulation and other lesions in the affected areas. Healthy lungs are pink, spongy and lightweight with sharp, well defined edges on the lobes. Infected lung tissue is dark colored, firmer and heavier than healthy lung tissue. Some diseases cause abscesses in lung tissue. These abscesses may be filled with pus and often have a hard outer shell. Incisions through sections of normal and infected lung tissue will demonstrate these differences.

The trachea and bronchi should be opened from above the larynx into the lungs to check for infection and other abnormalities. Animals killed by a bite in the throat frequently have physical injury to the larynx and trachea. Also, these bites frequently cause hemorrhage and foam in the trachea which contribute to death by suffocation.

Animal Age and Health

Very old and very young animals are less likely than healthy adults to survive poor nutrition, adverse weather and exposure, and they are generally more susceptible to disease. Therefore, age and apparent health of animals prior to death should be considered in evaluating losses.

Young animals, particularly newborn pigs, lambs and kids are extremely vulnerable to exposure during cold, wet weather. If they do not receive adequate maternal care and do not nurse within the first few hours they are not likely to survive. Birth weight also is important to survival; newborn young that are small and weak are less likely to survive than healthy, vigorous young of average or larger size.

Diseases of pregnancy and difficult births may cause the death of either or both the mother and fetus. Necropsy (examination and dissection of a body after death) of females in parturition should include attention to pregnancy diseases and to injuries sustained in giving birth, in addition to unusually large fetuses and those in abnormal positions. Post-mortem examination of newborn and very young animals should include attention to the major characteristics of healthy young, such as: 1) Young born alive will have a distinct blood clot at the closed end of the navel (umbilical artery); stillborn young will not have this clot. 2) If young animals breathe after birth, the lungs inflate, become light pink and will float in water (complete lung inflation may require several hours); stillborn young have uninflated, dark, red-purple lungs which do not float. 3) Firm, white fat deposits around the heart and kidneys indicate health; the lack of this fat indicates poor nutrition or starvation. As young healthy animals grow, they also develop fat deposits in tissues around the stomach and intestines (mesenteric fat). 4) Milk is normally present in the stomach and intestines of healthy young. The absence of milk during the first few weeks indicates poor nutrition; however, milk content of the stomach decreases as the diet changes to solid foods and weaning takes place. 5) Digestion of milk produces chyle, a white emulsion of milk fat and lymph. This is found in the lymphatic vessels which drain the intestinal tract and is present immediately after young animals suckle. 6) The soft membrane on the hooves of newborn animals begins to wear as soon as the young stand and begin walking. Hard, dry soil surfaces cause more rapid wear than soft, wet surfaces.

Missing Livestock

It is not unusual for livestock to disappear from pastures and herds and there are numerous possible causes. Young or small animals such as pigs, calves, lambs and kid goats frequently disappear. However, when no trace of the animals can be found, particularly when they have been well tended and confined to pasture, predation or theft may be the cause.

Livestock and their young normally remain close enough that young animals can nurse several times daily, particularly for the first few weeks after birth. Therefore, a lactating female with engorged udder, searching for her young for prolonged periods may be evidence that the young is missing or dead. This type of maternal behavior is less likely to occur where females have one remaining of two or more offspring. Because they behave differently and have large litters, hogs are less likely to respond in this fashion if several young remain.

Domestic animals are much less wary and nervous than wild species, particularly when they are herded or otherwise handled regularly. Their customary behavior is modified by weather, temperature, availability of feed and other factors. However, the behavior pattern is characteristic for each individual herd under a specific type of management.

Other livestock behavior is useful as indirect evidence of predation. The presence of carnivores which appear to exhibit a threat usually will cause most cows to bawl and attempt to locate their young. Their behavior will be alert, much exaggerated from normal and will include urgent calling, running to find their calves and attempts to chase the carnivores. Sheep and goats respond in a similar manner when alerted but they are much less aggressive than cattle. They do call urgently and attempt to find their young, but some may abandon their search and try to escape to protect themselves.

Almost without exception, the behavior of livestock in herds which are raided repeatedly by predators becomes more alert and defensive. They appear frightened even by common management practices that do not normally disturb them, especially when carnivore hunting behavior involves chasing the herd while making a kill rather than by stalking individual animals. Once established by repeated depredation, this response continues and will recur for days or weeks. With normal management, this unusual behavior will gradually disappear if predation stops. To the person versed in livestock production and familiar with the individual herd, abnormal behavior is readily apparent and indicates a reaction to an unusual disturbance.

Evaluation of Suspected Predator Kills

There is a logical, scientific procedure for evaluating predator kills and feeding to determine the species responsible, but there is no simple series of steps which lead to consistent and accurate determinations. Predators frequently feed on carrion (dead animals) and take other predator kills. Several species may feed on the same carcass. Much experience and intuitive judgment may be essential for successfully identifying the predator species responsible.

A common error made in evaluating predator kills and feeding is the tendency to stereotype these by species. Most predators do follow a general pattern, but individuals vary in food preferences, method of attack and feeding behavior. These behaviors may overlap extensively between individuals of different species; consequently, evidence other than the carcass is frequently essential to make accurate judgments. The following procedure is suggested for determining if a loss has resulted from predators and for identifying the species.

Because humans are susceptible to many diseases carried by animals, always take proper precautions to prevent exposure during examination of all animal carcasses.

  1. Examine injured animals for the type and extent of wounds and feeding. If possible, determine whether wounds were made by mammals (canine teeth and/or claws), by birds (talons and/or beaks), or by other causes. Some animals are fed upon without being killed. Coyotes may bite off the tails and feed on the hindquarters of live calves. They may feed on calves and on the genitals and hindquarters of cows giving birth. Black bears and coyotes occasionally feed on the udders of lactating females without killing them. At times, raccoons also feed on young or defenseless livestock without killing them, Similarly, vultures, magpies, ravens and gulls may attack and feed on young or defenseless livestock, peck out their eyes and kill them. Newborn young, females giving birth and other helpless animals are especially vulnerable.

    Dogs often cause extensive injuries to young and small livestock without killing them, but do not usually feed on them. Some dogs learn to kill efficiently and feed like coyotes normally do. Injuries caused by coyotes sometimes resemble those caused by dogs. This may be a result of inexperience in killing, two or more coyotes attacking the same animal or a heavy fleece which prevents effective attack at the throat. Other factors, such as physical injuries which restrict coyotes from their normal attack, also affect killing behavior of individual coyotes. A high percentage of animals injured in such attacks die later from shock, loss of blood or infections.

    Such wounds and feeding patterns confirm predation but injuries do result from other causes such as thorns, nails, barbed wire and vehicles. Venomous snake bites cause injuries which may be difficult to identify without careful examination.
     

  2. Where predation is suspected or confirmed, locate the attack, kill and feeding sites if possible. Avoid tracking over and destroying evidence such as tracks and droppings around these sites and the carcass. Since feeding and other predator sign may be similar, it is often essential to have all available evidence to confirm the cause of death and/or the species responsible.

    Many predators move their kills. Small animals are frequently carried away by foxes, bobcats and coyotes. Cougars, bobcats and black bears seem to prefer feeding in a secluded area and they may drag or carry their kills to cover. All three species normally feed in a limited area without scattering carcass remains and they frequently cover carcasses with dirt, grass, leaves or other debris. In contrast, coyotes that feed extensively tend to scatter carcass remains, wool and hair over much larger areas while feeding.

    Predator sign is frequently found near kill sites. Trails, fencelines, creeks, waterholes and dry washes in the vicinity should be checked for tracks and droppings. Crawls through or under net wire fences are quite common and hair is often found on the soil or clinging to wire where predators pass through or under these fences. 
     

  3. Examine carcasses for wounds, hemorrhage, bruises, broken bones and feeding. If necessary, the entire carcass should be skinned and opened to identify internal wounds and other factors which help confirm the cause of death. For example, some animals are killed by a single grip at the throat which causes suffocation but leaves little external evidence. Bears and cougars may kill by blows from the front paws that break the neck or back and may cause extensive bruises but these may not be apparent prior to necropsy. Claw marks caused by cougars and bobcats may be much more evident on the flesh side of the skin because of dense hair or wool.

    Be careful not to confuse bruises, which are localized and a dark color from clotted blood, with the conditions caused by decomposition. At certain stages, decomposition may resemble extensive bruises. Also, body fluids collect on the lower side of the carcass during decomposition and cause extensive areas of discoloration. Discoloration caused by snakebite may also be obscured by decomposition; careful and complete examination may be necessary to find these wounds.

    The position of the carcass may be important. Animals that are killed are rarely found lying in a natural position. Also, scavengers may move or turn a carcass over while feeding. As a result, caution is necessary in attempting to reconstruct the circumstances of death since postmortem changes which developed with the body in one position may cause judgment errors when its position has been changed.

General Characteristics of Predator Kills

The number, size, depth and location of tooth or talon punctures vary. Some animals are killed by a single bite at the throat or neck. Small animals are often killed by a bite over the head, neck, shoulders or back. Since most predators find large animals harder to kill than small prey, they may bite repeatedly while shifting their grip to subdue prey animals.

In contrast, when prey is relatively small compared to the predator, a single bite is often sufficient to kill. As a rule, therefore, where many tooth punctures accompanied by hemorrhage are found, predators smaller than their prey are the most probable cause of death. However, young, inexperienced predators are also likely to inflict multiple injuries by indiscriminate attacks without killing their prey. This is relatively common with foxes, coyotes and dogs and is particularly true of dogs.

Although size and spacing between the canine teeth (responsible for most tooth punctures) are characteristic for each species, tooth punctures in tissue are often difficult to assign to a species since there are close similarities in species of similar size. Also, punctures do not remain clear and distinct because of tissue pliancy and movement. Differences are further obscured by multiple bites and punctures; therefore, additional information may be needed.

Foxes rarely crush the skull or spine on small livestock prey, but such injuries are relatively common on small lambs, goats and pigs killed by coyotes, bobcats and larger carnivores. Cougars and bears are capable of and frequently cause similar massive injuries to adult sheep and goats, calves and other animals of similar size with bites over the head, neck or shoulders. Broken bones are more commonly found when the predator is relatively large compared to its prey.

Most predators tend to attack the head and neck, although eagles may grasp small prey anywhere. Eagles commonly leave talon wounds in the shoulders, ribs and back, and often in the brisket and abdomen of small animals such as lambs and kid goats. They often grasp small prey by the head or neck but the spacing between the talon wounds ( 1 to 3 inches between front talons, and 4 to 6 inches between the middle front talon and the back talon or hallux), the triangular shape, and the depth of the wounds (up to 2 inches) are different than canine tooth punctures. Compression skull fractures of small prey, such as lambs and kids, may result from the eagle's grip. Internal bleeding is common in animals killed by eagles when their talons have entered the abdominal or thoracic cavities. Frequently, an eagle's talons puncture major internal veins and arteries, particularly the dorsal aorta, causing massive internal hemorrhage.

Bruises and extensive shoulder and back injuries are frequent in bear attacks on adult livestock but should not be confused with bruises caused by other livestock. For example, sheep may be injured by cattle and horses, particularly when livestock concentrates at the same locations. Bears may also claw and bruise the sides and abdomen while holding their prey. Bears may leave claw marks on the head, neck and shoulders, but these are more commonly found on cougar and bobcat kills.

Hemorrhage from arteries and veins differs. Arterial blood is normally bright red while veinous blood is dark. Blood pressure is much higher in arteries than in veins and arterial blood is ejected in rapid spurts, often for several feet, as the heart contracts. In contrast, veinous bleeding is steady and much slower because of low pressure. Blood from wounds or from the nose and mouth of injured animals is thick and will readily clot. It is distinctly different from the thin, reddish fluids resulting from decomposition.

Observation of predators making kills is relatively rare; therefore, when predators are removed, there is the question of whether the individual responsible predators or groups have been removed, or whether those removed were simply scavengers. Evidence that the responsible animals were removed is usually indirect. Occasionally they are observed in the act of killing or may be identified by other information such as unique tracks, killing methods or other definitive factors.

Knowledge that only specific animals live in the area or travel into an area to kill provides some evidence. More commonly, the evidence depends on predation patterns and loss levels that stop or are reduced when predators are removed. Occasionally, a predator is shot while attacking or may be trailed (by tracks or use of dogs) from a kill site to assure its removal. Stomach contents can be examined to determine if the captured predator has fed on a fresh kill. This alone is not sufficient to confirm responsibility for the kill but it suggests involvement.

Carnivore tracks and territorial marks are characteristic for each species, but they may be difficult to find. The characteristics of tracks are most easily seen in mud, dust or snow but often are not clear on other surfaces. Experience is essential for accurate identification of predator tracks, feces and other marks.

Procedures for Evaluating Predation on Livestock and Wildlife Illustrated Field Guide

There are individual sections on predation organized by predator. A list of these sections can be found under Illustrated Field Guide on the predation main page or from the links below. These sections contain text describing and photos depicting predation by that predator. They describe the principles and procedures used to separate predator caused injuries and mortalities in livestock and wildlife from those resulting from other causes. Proper identification demands recognition and evaluation of all available evidence. Application of these principles will help the investigator determine whether or not predation was involved and frequently what predator species was responsible.

Diseases, parasites, toxic plants and other mortality factors may require diagnoses by veterinarians and pathologists. In some instances, the absence of food or the presence of toxic plant materials in the digestive tract may provide definitive evidence of the cause of death. In others, the presence of parasites and symptoms of disease can be readily diagnosed. Numerous references on these factors are noted in the reference list for those who wish to review these topics.

Knowledge and skill are often necessary to determine the cause of injuries or death. Although direct observation of predation is rare, it is the most specific evidence possible and may also permit identification of the responsible animal. Fresh injuries or kills which exhibit tooth, claw or talon punctures and hemorrhage are also specific evidence of predation. However, it is seldom possible to identify the individual predator responsible and occasionally it is not possible to identify the species from the carcass appearance alone.

In many instances, determination of predation as the cause of death must be made from circumstantial evidence where the carcasses alone do not provide adequate evidence. The history of predation in a specific area, aberrant livestock behavior, young or small livestock that simply disappear, predator sign (including tracks and droppings containing bone fragments or hair of prey species) are factors that provide circumstantial evidence. With sufficient care and evaluation of indirect evidence, it is often possible to rule out or to confirm predation as a cause of death with a reasonable degree of certainty.

Elements Used to Identify Predation

  • Livestock behavior

  • Direct evidence

  • Indirect evidence

Predator Species

  • Coyotes
    Coyotes are the most common and the most serious predator of livestock in the western United States. Westwide, they cause a majority of the predation losses of sheep, goats and cattle. In some states, this is also true for hogs and poultry. In attacks on adult sheep and goats, coyotes typically bite the throat just behind the jaw and below the ear, although repeated bites made while shifting their hold may obscure the initial tooth punctures. Death commonly results from suffocation and shock; blood loss is usually a secondary cause of death. On small prey such as young lambs and kids, coyotes may kill by biting the head, neck or back, causing massive tissue and bone damage.

  • Dogs
    Domestic dogs can be a serious problem where they are permitted to run at large, particularly near urban areas. True feral dogs and coydogs (coyote-dog hybrids) are also a problem but are far less common.
    Domestic dogs do not normally kill for food and their attacks usually lead to indiscriminate mutilation of prey. When they do feed, they tend to leave torn, ragged tissue and splintered bones much like coyotes do.

  • Foxes
    Although poultry are their more common domestic prey, both red and gray foxes may prey on livestock. This is generally less typical of gray foxes. Usually, foxes kill only young or small animals, particularly lambs and kids. However, in some circumstances, probably because their food is limited, red foxes may kill large lambs and kids, adult sheep and goats and small calves.
    Foxes usually attack the throat of lambs and kids, but kill some by multiple bites to the neck and back. This may result from young animals being caught while lying down.

  • Bobcats
    Bobcat hunting and killing behavior is much like that of cougars because they prefer to stalk their prey and attack from cover. On small prey, such as lambs, kids and fawns, they bite into the skull or back of the neck and may leave claw marks on the back, sides and shoulders. Bobcats may also kill with a bite in the throat, typically just back of the jaws over the larynx. This could result from catching the prey after it falls, or it may be individual bobcat behavior.

  • Cougars
    Cougars attempt to stalk their prey and attack from cover. They frequently kill sheep and goats by biting the top of the neck or head. Broken necks are common in these kills. This differs from the typical coyote bite in the throat and general mutilation caused by dogs. However, cougars also may kill sheep and goats by biting the throat. This may result from prey falling or being knocked down and caught, or it may simply be the method found effective by individual cougars and most convenient on some prey animals.

  • Black bear
    Grizzly bears are common in parts of Canada and Alaska but occur only in limited areas of the west in the lower 48 United States, primarily in Yellowstone Park and in northwestern Montana. They are omnivores and consume large amounts of vegetation and wild fruits in addition to carrion and prey. Predation by black bears on livestock is most common in spring and summer. Limited food sources in early spring and failures of wild berry and nut crops during summer months are probably major contributing factors.

  • Golden eagle
    Both bald and golden eagles may prey on livestock, but usually golden eagles, are responsible. Both species readily accept livestock carrion and carcasses of foxes and coyotes, although some individuals may prefer live prey to carrion. Eagles are efficient predators and they can cause severe losses of young livestock, particularly where concentrations of eagles exist. Generally, they prey on young animals, primarily sheep and goats, although they are capable of killing adults. Golden eagles also take young deer and antelope, as well as some adults.

  • Raven
    Vultures, ravens, crows, magpies and some gulls commonly scavenge carcasses. In some circumstances, they may attack live animals and kill those that are unable to escape or defend themselves. Initial attacks by these birds are usually at the eyes and nose, navel and anal area. Typically, they blind the animals by pecking out the eyes even if they do not kill them.

  • Gull
    Vultures, ravens, crows, magpies and some gulls commonly scavenge carcasses. In some circumstances, they may attack live animals and kill those that are unable to escape or defend themselves. Initial attacks by these birds are usually at the eyes and nose, navel and anal area. Typically, they blind the animals by pecking out the eyes even if they do not kill them.

  • Hawk
    Vultures, ravens, crows, magpies and some gulls commonly scavenge carcasses. In some circumstances, they may attack live animals and kill those that are unable to escape or defend themselves. Initial attacks by these birds are usually at the eyes and nose, navel and anal area. Typically, they blind the animals by pecking out the eyes even if they do not kill them.

  • Vulture
    Vultures, ravens, crows, magpies and some gulls commonly scavenge carcasses. In some circumstances, they may attack live animals and kill those that are unable to escape or defend themselves. Initial attacks by these birds are usually at the eyes and nose, navel and anal area. Typically, they blind the animals by pecking out the eyes even if they do not kill them.

  • Raccoon

  • Hog
    In some areas, domestic or wild hogs (Russian boar, domestic hogs gone wild, and their crosses) prey on poultry and livestock. This occurs more often during droughts or other periods when mast (acorns, etc.) and other foods are scarce. Hogs will also feed readily on carrion but some hogs become highly efficient predators. Hog predation on livestock usually occurs on lambing or calving grounds, perhaps partially because of the prevalence of afterbirth. Occasionally, adult animals giving birth are fed upon and killed by hogs.

  • Rattlesnake
    Venomous snakes, particularly rattlesnakes, occur on nearly all livestock ranges of the southern and western United States and in many other areas; thus, it is inevitable that substantial numbers of livestock are bitten. Because young animals (colts, calves, lambs and kids) are curious and far less cautious than adults, they are the most common victims of snakebite in livestock. Many of them are bitten on the nose or head as they attempt to investigate snakes.

 

 

Special thanks to:
Clemson University

Dale A. Wade and James E. Bowns, Texas Agricultural Extension Service 111 Nagle Hall, Texas A & M University, College Station, TX 77843 Phone (979) 845-6573 Refer to publication number: B1429

 



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