The Use of Aircraft in Predator Control


Private aerial hunting of predators for protection of livestock began before 1925 in the western United States. Apparently, it was first used in professional control programs in 1942. Inclement weather, dense vegetation and rough terrain are l i m i t i n g factors and helicopters are more versatile than fixed-wing aircraft. When it can be employed, aerial hunting is unsurpassed as an immediate control method where livestock losses are severe and the need for control is urgent. Figure 1. Aerial coyote hunting in North Dakota, 1929. Aircraft: Waco 90. Pilot: Fred Roberts, Bismarck, North Dakota. (Photo: Courtesy of W i l l i a m K. Pfeifer, State Supervisor, Animal Damage Control, U.S. Fish and W i l d l i f e Service, Bismarck, North Dakota.) Aircraft have been used to census and survey w i l d animals and in hunting predators for several decades. In Canada and Alaska this has included hunting of wolves (Canis lupus). In some states red foxes (Vulpes fulva) cause substantial losses to poultry and sheep operations and are occasionally hunted from aircraft. However, the majority of aerial predator hunting in the United States has been for protection of livestock on pasture and open range from depredation by coyotes (Canis latrans). Since aerial hunting statutes and regulations vary from state to state and are subject to change, this discussion w i l l deal only with the method and not with its legal regulation. Aerial hunting is carried out primarily where livestock losses are high and other control methods require excessive time and costs for loss reduction. The rapid transit time and u t i l i t y provided by aircraft suitable for hunting are primary reasons for their use. Extensive distances and difficult travel conditions caused by snow and mud are added factors that severely restrict ground operations and encourage the use of aircraft for removal of problem predators. However, good v i s i b i l i t y is necessary for effective and safe operations; therefore, relatively clear and stable weather conditions are essential.

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@inproceedings{Wade2017TheUO, title={The Use of Aircraft in Predator Control}, author={Dale A. Wade}, year={2017} }