A swat team of experts has been formed to look at better ways to control "depredating animals that reduce agricultural production," Agriculture Secretary Richard E. Lyng announced Thursday.

The 22-member National Animal Damage Control Advisory Committee will advise Lyng on policy, program issues and research that will be needed to protect America's crops and livestock from ravaging creatures.Depredating animals were said to include blackbirds, rodents and coyotes. Control measures must be "biologically, economically and environmentally sound," he said.

"The economic losses to farmers and ranchers from such animals are estimated at more than $300 million per year and often represent the difference between profit and loss for many producers," Lyng said.

The committee will also serve as a public forum so that farmers, ranchers and other wildlife interests may have a voice in USDA's animal damage control policies, he said.