Our brave livestock guardian dog.

Our brave livestock guardian dog.

I spoke with a neighbor this weekend who said she is having a terrible time with domestic dogs chasing and/or killing her livestock. So, she’s been shooting them (this is entirely legal, btw). I don’t blame her, this kind of predation is perhaps the most frustrating of all, because it doesn’t need to happen. These dogs have kibble at home, they aren’t trying to make a living like a wild predator, they are just out having a good time!

What I did find shocking was how many dogs she said she’d shot in the past few weeks. It was a lot, I got the impression she’s been shooting almost a dog a day! :-0  There is an old saying about catching your neighbor’s dog killing stock: “shoot, shovel and shut up.” The idea being that it’s just easier for everyone if you bury the dog and never mention what happened to it. This neighbor, I think, was taking a different approach, in trying to let everybody in the area know, “hey, you’d better keep your dogs at home, or they’re not coming home!” So, neighbors of the hill, be forewarned; troublemaker dogs at-large are just not tolerated in farming communities.

What’s puzzling to me is that this woman lives maybe a mile or two away as the crow flies- an easy trot across open fields for any loose dog. But how come we’re not seeing any domestic dogs in our fields or yard? I don’t know, especially because I’ve got two dogs in heat right now- that should lure any at-large male! She says she sees them more at night, but obviously sees them enough during the day time to be able to be shooting them regularly. She theorizes that the dogs are coming to her place via a trail system that leads over our very large hill, conveying dogs from miles around right into her pastures.

She has also recently had a cougar take several heavily pregnant goat does, hauling them right over the fence and into the woods. She tried to shoot that too, but missed.

Pondering how many animals she’s taken out in a very short period of time, and that they still keep coming, it reinforces in my mind that removal is the least effective (but still sometimes necessary) way of dealing with predation. Improved fences and good guardians are a much more proactive way of coping, versus waiting for something to be killed, then trying to identify and go after the killer. We are still waiting to snag our own local brave coyote, btw. We haven’t seen her nearly as much, and we’ve been locking up our birds when we’re not home. So things are status quo for now: coyotes: 10; us:0.

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