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In Montana complaints of livestock depredation by grizzly bears are up in 2018, while complaints about livestock depredation by wolves are down, according to the state's director of Wildlife Services. 

By a broad margin, coyotes remain the top killer of livestock in Montana in 2018.

John Steuber, the director of Wildlife Services in Montana reviewed fiscal year 2018 depredation numbers Friday night at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center during the 135th Annual Montana Wool Growers Convention. 

Grizzlies have accounted for 138 complaints of livestock depredation or injury and wolves for a total of 92 complaints. In 2017, there were 98 complaints of depredation by grizzlies and just over 100 by wolves.

Coyotes so far this fiscal year have killed three cattle, 296 calves, four goats, 92 adult sheep and 1,482 lambs, Steuber said. 

Damage from coyote depredation has cost producers $552,084 in the fiscal year, Steuber said. 

A number of suspected grizzly kills remain unconfirmed, but the largest leap in depredation appears to be among calves. The previous fiscal year grizzlies were confirmed to have killed 41 calves. In 2018 Steuber said 66 calves are confirmed to have been killed by grizzlies. 

Mountain lions have accounted for the deaths of 187 livestock in the fiscal year 2018, according to Steuber's numbers.

In addition to wildlife threats to livestock already within state boundaries, Steuber cautioned attendees to beware feral swine, which he said have been reported as close as 4 miles from the border between Montana and Canada. 

"I know most people haven’t dealt with feral pigs but they make everything else look mild. They can do damage you can’t even imagine. Readily predate on lambs, and goat kids. They’ll damage pastures and crops, commercial timber, parks, cemeteries, golf courses," Steuber said. "Anything and everything you can imagine."

He urged people, especially those in Montana's northeast corner to contact Wildlife Services if feral pigs are spotted. 

"Particularly those of you in the northeast, be very vigilant. If you see (feral) pigs, call us, because we want to go up there and kill them." 

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Night Reporter

General assignment reporter for The Billings Gazette.