West Virginia’s Newest Predator

No matter how you stand on the issue of hunting/trapping it seems to take a different tone in rural places where farming is a way of life and predator hunting is seen as a vital part of protection for livestock. West Virginia like many eastern states is seeing an invasion of a new kind of predator. The Coyote is a relatively new member to the Appalachian ecosystem as migration of the Eastern Coyote ( a cross bred coyote and wolf)  has taken generations to happen. But the population is growing and more people are discovering what western folks have always known. No one wants a Coyote in the chicken house! So what to do with the increasing populations of non-native predators in our state?

coyote-pa-sports

Shy Coyote in Pennsylvania

The West Virginia Department of Wild Life has stated this on their Coyote research website page. “Predator control of coyotes preying on livestock should be restricted to targeted animals. Although bounties have been liberally used on coyotes in the west, no bounty system has ever worked. Liberal trapping seasons for the coyote should continue. Methods to encourage the sport of predator calling and means to target the coyote as a fur-bearer and game animal should be explored.

It is a challenging to be a farmer or rancher to start with, but to hear the yipping and howling of a pack of Coyotes from the front porch of your farm can be unnerving. Over the 18 years that we lived and worked our farm Coyotes were only in our area the last 6 to 8 years. It was often in the fall and winter that we heard the late night howling of the dogs.  Often it was during the early spring foaling season on the farm and same time of the year that our neighbors cattle were calving out in the pasture. By the end of  February  and March we would often see our friends out tending to the new-born calves and would meet along a fence row and talk about the winter weather and how the babies were growing. Often Tom and I would hear about the calves that were killed by Coyotes. It is tragic but one new born calf is no match for 3 or 4 Coyotes. Even today  we often spend time with farmers who raise sheep and goats who have purchased “watch animals” like Donkeys to protect the herd from the preying eyes of the dogs. The Coyote topic is becoming more common in my circle of friends. No farmer wants to lose his income to a predator. Losing one calf is a real financial  blow to a farmer. So hunting the mysterious animal is becoming big sport in the hills and hallows.

Within a 50 mile radius of our home there are 3 Coyote hunting contests every winter. Coyotes are legal game year around and electronic calls and artificial light or night vision hunting is legal from Jan to July. There are no bag limits, daily,seasonally or annually. So all a person needs is to hold a legal West Virginia hunting / trapping license to pursue a Coyote. Even with this liberal policy the Coyote population is growning and the conflict continues to rise.

So this fall as my husband and son were out deer hunting they watched a pack of three coyote running through the woods chasing a doe deer. It was a within a five-minute walk to a friend’s house where they roamed. They were close enough that if you walked your dog you may be confronted with them. I was shocked even after hearing them in the darkness night after night to think that they were hunting so close to our families farm and even closer to our nieghbors house.

What would you do? What will most of the rural farm families do when this happens to them? When is wild life to close for comfort? Do we need to lose life stock and small pets before it is allowable to remove the threat? The need to answer these questions are being raised in West Virginia, Pennsylvanian and Virginia.The Department of Wild Life of West Virginia says it is OK to protect and defend, so my husband felt that it was in the best interest of that doe and my neighbors dogs and cats to harvest two of the three Coyotes that day.

coyote-in-woods

Coyote dead in the West Virginia Woods 2016

I sit here and wonder if the Coyote will be to West Virginia and Pennsylvanian what the wild boar is to Florida and Georgia. An animal that causes more damage than good in the ecosystem and ends up on the front page of the DRN’s list of problems. I know for now that with the help of hunters and trappers we may have a chance to keep the Coyote out of the chicken house but we may need more professional help like Florida and Georgia have resorted to for their pig problems. What the future holds for farmers and Coyotes is unknown but I do know that the problem is not going away any time soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Appalachian Mountains, coyote, deer hunting, equine health, Farming, Hunting, natural resources, West Virginia, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “West Virginia’s Newest Predator

  1. The coyote (in West Virginia, it’s pronounced “Kye-oat”) is definitely a predator that needs eradication. You’ve probably heard stories that I’ve heard – that they’ll kill for the sheer fun of killing. Our local post master told of her small flock of sheep being killed in one night – not for food, simply for killing. I’ve heard that they can actually climb over a gate to gain entrance to a pasture or corral! And cattle ranchers have told me that coyotes will wait til a cow is delivering her calf, then devour or kill the calf even before it’s born! I love animals, but when I hear that sort of story over and over, I have no reservations about coyotes in West Virginia being killed. Trapping them takes a bit of skill, I’ve been told, and they’ll steer clear of anything that smells like man. This is one animal I have no sympathy for.

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  2. Where I live in Maryland, we hear the coyotes. Once the kids were outside playing during the day, and I heard one that seemed way too close for comfort, so I rounded up the little ones and we went inside. Nobody likes the coyotes.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love dogs and if their numbers weren’t out of control, I would probably enjoy hearing the yipping of a coyote, thinking that they keep the mice down on the prairies, but that isn’t the way it is in real life. Coyotes are prolific and can be devastating to a farm or ranch. They have even become brazen enough to kill humans. Consider the case of 19-year-old Canadian folk singer, Taylor Mitchell, killed by coyotes in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. If they are not hunted, coyotes lose their fear of people and come close to towns, killing pets and threatening children. I agree with you that they have to be controlled, as distasteful as that is.

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  4. Sorry to hear that a new species of coyote (a wolf coyote cross) that is well adapted to your area has arrived. If they prove to be as adaptive as the coyotes in the southwest they are there to stay and you will be forced to change farming/ranching methods to deal with your new large predictor.

    The bad news is they are opportunist, quickly adapt to a new area and will take domestic rabbits, chickens, small dogs, cats and will take advantage of new born goats, sheep and sometimes livestock as large as a new born calf or colt. They quickly adapt and learn safe productive hunting areas. As winter sets in, rodents are less available they turn to hunting near homesteads for a reliable easy food source.

    The good news is their main diet consist mostly of rodents, mice, rats, rabbits and such. Like all predators they will not normally put themselves in a position that they believe will cause them to be injured. They do sometimes hunt as a pack, Generally an adult with his/her pups(up to a year old). Mostly they are solidary or hunt in (adult) pairs for rodents.

    If you invest in guard animal(s) keep in mind male donkeys, lamas, sheep dogs are better guards than female guard animals. I prefer and have 1 Jackass to guard our 20 acre pasture. The small amount of supplemental food is a small price to pay for his guard services.

    Good fences, large yard/farm dogs and motion activated lighting will become a way of life. An investment in a reliable 12 gauge shotgun and a box of #2 shot shells are a wise investment as well. Coyotes quickly learn what farmsteads are safe hunting areas and which areas are hazards to their health and will avoid big dogs, jackass’s and humans armed with coyote killing fire arms.

    Good luck and Happy coyote free holiday season.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the support and so far we have not had any in our farm yard or in the house yard but with small animals and lots of rabbits it maybe only time before they come that close

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  5. I completely agree with you that coyotes can pose a threat to a farmers livelihood. However it is very unlikely that a coyote, or a group of coyotes would target a human, especially if they are walking a dog. Coyotes are quite skiddish animals and scare very easily. Having hunted them in the past, I am astonished at how little it takes to frighten one off. Which is why I would suggest trapping to remove a serious coyote problem.

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    • Jess, thanks for your comment and trapping has begun in the area where my family’s farm is located and it should keep them from getting much closer to the house.

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  6. It looks beautiful. I’m to hear it takes little to frighten off. I would also recommend trapping!

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  7. I hear you. that must be such a worry.
    They are in our area now too (in S.Ontario) and it makes me nervous about our small dogs. Extra caution required.

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