The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on January 12, 1986 · Page 17
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 17

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Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, January 12, 1986
Page:
Page 17
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Great Plains The Salina Journal Sunday, January 12,1986 Page 27 Rex Ackerman shoots a coyote trapped in a pasture south of Plainville. Ranchers asked Ackerman to trap on their land to keep coyotes from preying on calves. Trapper keeps predators off the plains The trapper skins one of the coyotes he trapped. By Brent Bates Photos by Tom Dorsey Ackerman carries a coyote that had been snagged in a snare trap. LAINVILLE - He's the exterminator — a hired gun, so to speak, protecting ranchers' cattle in the hills along the Saline River. He got his start several years ago, when ranchers approached him with a problem. Coyotes were preying on their cattle. Working alone, the pesky varmints were picking off defenseless calves, killing and eating them. They were even known to attack cows if they were down during calving, eating the ' new-born calf and part of the cow. One rancher said he lost 30 calves in one winter alone. So they called in the exterminator, Rex Ackerman. Ackerman also is a farmer and rancher along the Saline. But if he had his druthers, he would be a full-time trapper. Coyotes are one of his favorite targets. "I enjoy matching wits with coyotes," said the trapper, who looks like he came straight out of a Marlboro commercial with his lean, blue-jean clad figure, cowboy hat and shaggy mustache. "It's something I like to do, I can make some money doing it (selling the pelts), and I'm doing others a favor for killing the coyotes." That year, Ackerman set his traps in the rancher's pastures and collected a $15 bounty from the rancher for each coyote he brought in. Twelve were caught. The problem was curbed. k Rex Ackerman Since his early success, other ranchers have called on Ackerman when coyote problems have sprung up. "If 24-hours long I was running traps, I couldn't get every place that people want me to trap," he says. Bob Henderson, state leader in wildlife damage control with Kansas State University's Extension Service, said far less than 1 percent of the 1.7 million calves produced in Kansas are lost to coyotes, costing the industry probably less than $200,000. Coyotes are more of a problem for sheep producers. However, he said some cattle ranchers in some areas — especially rugged areas like the hills near Plainville — have more problems with coyotes. For these ranchers, the economic con- sequences can be serious. Henderson said coyotes normally don't kill calves. Occasionally, however, a coyote will kill a small or weakened calf and that's when the problem starts. With a taste of success, that coyote often will prey on other calves in the herd, he said. * * •* The sun is just beginning to light the rugged hills along the Saline River south of Plainville. It's early. It's cold. Ackerman easily could still be in bed. But he's out checking the 40 traps he has set for coyotes. "The key to trapping, the key to success out here is hard work," Ackerman said, his breath quickly freezing, forming icicles on his mustache. "Rain, sleet, snow, or 25 degrees below zero — Rex is going to be out trapping.... I've been trapping in conditions 90 percent of the guys wouldn't trap in. A good trapper should operate in anything." The trapper jumped into his four- wheel-drive pickup and rumbled off to check his traps. Four-wheel-drive is a necessity in this game, he said, bouncing across pastures on trails fit for a mountain goat. The first trap he checks has a coyote. The animal has a front leg clamped in a leg-hold trap, a steel-jawed device that snags animals when they step on its trigger. A dead cow Ackerman had dumped nearby had drawn the coyote to the area; a cow's skull placed on top of the See Trapper, Page 28

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