Sunday, June 22, 2014

Turkey Gangs & Songdog Pups

Here is Lucas and the two young turks. They are always together. Turkeys are like that, very much a flock animal but more like gang members. Chickens scatter like pool balls, shot from the coop every morning as if the sunlight itself was the eight ball. But Turkeys do not act like buckshot. They are always a few feet away from each other. At least these three are. The two adult females seem more interested in sitting on nests and thinking about their life choices. It takes all kinds.

Last night when I got back to the farm, about a third of a mile up the road was a trio of floppy coyote puppies in the road. I melted at the sight of them. Like stretched out foxes, all sandy and sly. I was so glad to see them and thanked them. Songdogs never bother my farm, ever. But their little cousins, the fox, will steal chickens one or two at a time till all of a sudden you walk outside one morning and realize half the flock is missing. Songdogs are not so brave to walk up to a human yard in broad daylight and with the forest so rich with young animal life not desperate enough to try. But coyotes will not share a territory with foxes and if they are hear breeding and singing into the night then that explains why I haven't had a single bird bogarted this spring. Songdogs are like my community watch program. I'd sooner kick Gibson than aim my .22 at them.

I know coyotes can be a problem in other areas of the country, but be careful about shooting them. Biologists have confirmed that these animals do not react to snipers the way wolves, bobcats, or cougars do. When you shoot any coyote that is part of a pack (and nearly all songdogs are part of packs) all the females in the pack react to the loss of a member by making more coyotes. Instead of just the alpha pair in the group breeding (keeping the young that season to a handful of pups) EVERYONE gets in the family way, including younger females, and so killing one coyote with a rifle means around twenty or thirty more being born to replace it. Which is why in an America where wolves, lions, lynxes and such are becoming ghosts there are coyotes in nearly every rural, suburban, and even urban corner of our world. We tried to thwart them, and our efforts made them stronger. You just can't troll songdogs, folks. Be grateful they keep away the foxes.

P.S. So you want to get rid of your coyote problem? I suggest building a good secure coop and installing something like Nite Guard.


Blogger Babyberry said...

I have to disagree with this post. Twice in the last month we have had coyotes come into our yard at 4 in the afternoon. The first time he got away with my roosters tail. The 2nd time I chased it away. Hopefully there is no next time!

June 22, 2014 at 9:56 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

If you get a chance, you should check this documentary out. So fascinating!

June 22, 2014 at 1:36 PM  
Blogger Curt said...

Interesting how killing sometimes has the opposite effect. Never knew this.

June 22, 2014 at 2:36 PM  
Blogger Curt said...

Interesting killing sometimes has the opposite effect. Never knew this about coyotes.

June 22, 2014 at 2:37 PM  
Blogger kandy Gray said...

yes, but how do you get rid of a fox problem? without a gun....

June 22, 2014 at 4:34 PM  
Blogger Su Ba said...

Here on Hawaii Island, the killing of feral cats in residential areas exhibits a similar effect. The elimination of the resident cats opens up unused territory allowing territory-less cats to move in and get pregnant. The scenario I've witnessed is that the original queen who "owned" the turf gets eliminated. Then 3-6 previously non-successful-breeding queens move in, claiming small bits of the turf. They all produce litters. Then homeowners complain about the cat population explosion. More trapping/elimination ensues, and the cat problem never goes away. This is a situation where spay-and-release helps to keep feral cat population under control, although cat haters refuse to believe it. When the resident queen is spayed and released, she continues to keep other queens from moving in.

June 22, 2014 at 7:26 PM  
Blogger The Hodgepodge Darling said...

Interesting. We haven't seen any Coyotes since moving, but it hasn't been very long. I usually lean to leaving things be unless absolutely forced to act.

June 22, 2014 at 8:49 PM  
Blogger laurie said...

We, too, had song dogs walk right into the yard by the house. Then he had the nerve to stroll away when I went out at the sound of consternation from the chickens. I set my big dog on him (oh, Sadie was fast!) and that kept them away long enough for us to get better fences up. She caught the coyote and rolled him. I hear them at night still, but with no chickens around I don't mind.

June 22, 2014 at 9:51 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

A pack of coyotes lured my mom's dog away from home (herself a stray, part wolf we thought, and VERY "street smart") in broad daylight and killed her. This was in WV, on the Ohio river, where one would think there would be plenty of other things for them to hunt.

June 22, 2014 at 11:00 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Montero said...

Interesting post - thank you!

June 23, 2014 at 3:48 AM  
Blogger WildFlower said...

I rarely post comments on blogs but thought that this video about Livestock Guardian Dogs was a nice tangent to your post about learning to exist with the wildlife that we share our lives with.

June 23, 2014 at 8:30 AM  
Blogger KirstenJL said...

I rely on elecronetting to contain my chickens and keep four-footed critters at bay, including coyotes. It has been very successful and it makes sense to me not to shoot my resident fence-trained predators!

June 23, 2014 at 11:30 AM  
Blogger Brenda said...

apparently our fox out back has befriended the coyotes, they are all out there but the coyotes do not enter the farm, thanks to my vigilant mammoth donk and the coop is anchor fencing, so far, sound.

June 23, 2014 at 2:59 PM  
Blogger Maggie in Tally said...

Lost our entire flock of 6 + rooster this week to a bear. Only 1 lil red hen left, and she's been moved near the house. Can't shoot the bear either, unless you want to risk 5 yrs in Fed Prison.

June 23, 2014 at 3:04 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

I never had a canid predator problem while my intact male GSD was alive. He died in January 2013 and I've had many chickens taken by fox and maybe coyotes too in the last too summers. I believe my boy's marking of his territory sent a clear message to the wild canids that they respected.
Coyotes will only reproduce to the carrying capacity of the area. They are good rodent controllers.
If you have a resident coyote population, the fox will leave.

June 24, 2014 at 7:50 AM  
Blogger Ellen Rathbone said...

Songdogs - I like that. Will have to remember it for future use. :)

July 2, 2014 at 2:33 PM  
Blogger Mim said...

I am wondering where you found is information? Being in the wildlife arena if things, I've never heard any biologist I know say anything close to this.
I do like your blog, but I do believe you have been misinformed.

July 2, 2014 at 10:30 PM  

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