Sam from Nebraska writes:
Caught a coyote sneaking up on my chickens and turkeys last night. A friend of mine had loaned me a 243 with a green laser light. I ran down to the barn, opened the back door turned the light on the coyote -- lit him up like a Christmas tree -- and shot him in the head (lucky shot). He couldn't see the green light at all and acted like no one could see him. Bad mistake.
No more dead turkeys and chickens.
Alan from Ohio responded:
Not to go all crunchy on you, but ...
Predators are very important. They manage the ecosystem. We don't. Just look at Yellowstone. When they put the wolves back, the streams came back. The wolves manage the populations, partly by culling the weak, but mostly by changing how they move. The movement lets the riparian zones recover from over grazing. If you have top predators in your area, your management job is protecting your flock, not killing off the predators. Our long term survival depends on sustainable systems, and we have ZERO skills as systems managers.
You are right to a point. Problem is, we are being over-run by coyotes and they are completely out of balance. I'm always in favor of a nice balanced system, but they don't exist any more, especially around here. I saw a picture of a pack with 24 coyotes in it a week or so ago -- taken just a few miles from my house.
They call out and kill your dogs, kill and eat newborn calves, spread rabies and other diseases and generally cause lots of problems. I help keep the balance by killing a few but we still need to kill more -- way too many for a good balance.
Around here we killed off all the dumb coyotes years ago and have selected for big, smart song dogs. The only ones left are extremely smart, completely nocturnal and determined to eat my chickens. I have a great chicken coop with doors and I will still try to kill any coyote that comes close. Which, by the way is extremely difficult -- hence the green laser light.
I had a pack of coyotes chasing one of my new born calves a few weeks ago -- at 3:00 in the morning. Had I not stepped in I would have lost a $1000 heifer. Going back to a supposed "balanced" system would mean that I have to give some of my calves to the coyotes each year and that ain't goin'a happen.
Coyotes and gophers -- kill as many as possible and there will still be too many of them.
The only good coyote is a dead one.
That's my rant,
Glen from Utah responds:
Rants are good. You make very good points. Based on Sam's description it is pretty clear he only shoots the dumb coyotes that would starve to death anyway. With all due respect to Sam... he'd never get a shot at a smart one!
OH I love a good rant!!!
Been where you are. Shot lots of preds. Changed calving season so it coincided with all the deer and elk. That one thing mostly eliminated the calf predation problem.
Here's what I learned. A population will grow to the limit of it's food supply. If it's growing, we must be doing something that increases its food supply. That's where you fix the problem. You can't shoot your way out of it. Found this true with 2000 head cow calf operation on 80000 acres in Wyoming wilderness and with beans on the edge of a corn field in Ohio.
Love to bash this one around more.
In the panhandle of Nebraska there is no public land and every inch is used as farmland or pasture and has been for over 100 years. I can't change calving season to coincide with deer or elk as we essentially have no deer or elk. Everything here is artificially managed and has been forever.
Any balance or imbalance we have -- we have created. So what you are saying is to control coyote populations I should go kill rabbits, mice and gophers. I'm in favor of that as the rabbits eat the bark off my trees. Or, I could go shoot the neighbor's cows as the coyotes have been getting some of them.
Rabbit population around here naturally cycles and the cycle has to do with weather, disease, etc. and has almost nothing to do with what the ranchers or farmers are doing. Coyote populations tend to follow the rabbit populations.
Problem is, our coyotes love to eat chickens and calves more than they love to eat rabbits and even when we have lots of rabbits (like this year) the coyotes still go after the calves and chickens and dogs.
I completely agree that you can't shoot your way out of the problem. My goal is to move the coyotes to my neighbors place. The more I shoot -- the fewer coyotes I have on my property and the more coyotes my neighbor has.
I call it survival of the loudest. I keep the coyotes away, more than anything, by shooting on a regular basis, especially at 10 or 12 o-clock at night -- even when I don't see any coyotes. Killing a few also sends a strong message.
There is no such thing as "wild" or "natural" in America, just what we create and then pretend to be wild or natural. In today's world we manage everything -- from the number of elk in Yellowstone to the number of gophers on my property.
Wild and/or natural will never exist again and that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Of course, you are right. But understanding the dynamic makes it possible to manage in a different direction. It isn't fast, easy, or maybe even "cost effective", yet if we don't move our practices to a more naturally balanced system, we will never survive. I manage my cows and goats in a totally UNnatural way except for the fact that they move pasture every couple of days, and I control health by controling mineral balance and diet. I manage my beans the same way, I fixed the mexican bean beatle problem by changing the mineral balance in the soil. Suddenly the neighbors toxic soy beans were better than my green beans. It's a long road, and we will have to shoot our way through part of it. But if we don't have a balanced, sustainable system out there somewhere as an ideal, we will go broke shooting the next pest.