5 Steps to Identify What Killed Your Livestock
I receive requests from animal owners looking for help in identifying what killed their animal. Whether the animal is a pet or a production animal the steps for identification are the same.
Step 1. What animals are in your area? Knowledge of the animals in your area is critical because there is no reason to suspect an animal that doesn’t live in your location. Think of it as your list of suspects. Don’t forget to include domestic species, like cats and dogs, too.
Step 2. Photograph the scene. Take clear, high resolution images of the scene. Take photos from different angles and distances. Ideally all photos should include a standard sized object such as a yardstick or ruler to show scale.
Step 3. Evaluate the scene. Was the animal killed during the day, night, inside a shed? Tick off as much detail as you can about the scene or setting surrounding the animal’s death.
Step 4. Investigate the carcass. This step requires wearing gloves to protect yourself from animal’s fluids. Carefully inspect the carcass, looking for puncture wounds and broken bones and other signs of injury. In most cases, an external survey will not provide many clues. Hair or feathers too often conceals signs needed to accurately identify the predator. Thus you will need to take a sharp knife to skin the animal. Skinning is necessary so you can have clear access to punctures, abrasions, contusions, and other signs. This step is critical. Failure to do it will result in inaccurate identification of the predators. Take careful pictures of punctures, particularly distances between canine or talons marks.
Step 5. Put it all together. List all the facts you have and use them to rule out potential suspects. Focus on ruling suspects out rather than looking to identify the guilty predator. This tactic helps prevent you from falling into tunnel vision. Check your data against a predator damage identification guide such as the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition.
About the Author
Stephen M. Vantassel is a certified wildlife control operator who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. His latest books are the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition and The Practical Guide to the Control of Feral Cats. He can be contacted at wildlifecontrolconsultant at gmail dot com.
If you would like your publication, video, or product reviewed, please contact the author at the e-mail above.Stephen M. Vantassel, CWCP, ACE, is the owner of Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. He helps people restore their balance with nature through publishing, training, consulting, and the internet. He has published numerous articles in trade and academic publications (http://kingsdivinity.academia.edu/StephenMVantassel) along with several books (https://wildlifecontrolconsultant.com/store-2/). Listen to his podcast at PestGeek Podcast (https://pestgeekpodcast.com/). He is a sought after speaker and trainer. If you would like to have Stephen speak at your event or use his consultation services, send an e-mail to email@example.com. Copyright All postings are the property of Stephen M. Vantassel and Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. Text (not images) may be reprinted in non-profit publications provided that the author and website URL is included. If images wish to be used, explicit and written permission must be obtained from Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC.
All postings are the property of Stephen M. Vantassel and Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. Text (not images) may be reprinted in non-profit publications provided that the author and website URL is included. If images wish to be used, explicit and written permission must be obtained from Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC.