How to Keep Coyotes, Foxes, and Wolves out of Your Yard and Livestock
In my part of Wisconsin, wolves are unheard of. However, recently a new pack has moved in just a couple of miles away from my parents place. Neighbors have seen what they believe to be wolf tracks in their fields and around their barns and houses. With the snow finally falling, people are just beginning to notice wolf and coyote tracks. However, they have probably been there since the fall if not sooner.
Fox and coyote mating season starts in January and February, and they give birth during March and April, making sightings more common during this time. Wolves mate anywhere from January to April, and they are always on the move looking for mates and a good place to den.
With increased sightings of these predators in the area, people are becoming fearful for their families, pets, and livestock. Although these predators are coming into the yard and around the livestock, it is unlikely that they will attack your children or pets. It is more likely that your child will be bitten by your own family dog than a wild coyote, fox, or wolf. However, it is never a good idea to leave young children or pets unattended outside for any period of time.
Keeping these predators out of the yard can be simple and nonlethal. With these tips and tricks you can keep your family, livestock, and livelihood safe and predator-free. It is important to remember that most taste, smell, and noise deterients will not be a permanent fix unless changes are made to the landscape.
Wolves, Coyotes, and Foxes:
It is important to remember the personality and characteristics of a healthy wolf pack. For example wolves hunt in packs and only go after weak or sick prey. They also mainly hunt within their territory. This is not necessarily true of a sick or lone wolf as they do not have their own territory. As a general rule wolves, as well as coyotes, and foxes are shy and avoid human contact. However, foxes are the most persistent, cunning, and least afraid of humans out of the three. If you happen across one of these animals that is not afraid, there are likely two reasons. The most common reason they may be unafraid is that they are sick or diseased. The other reason they become fearless of humans is due to habituation.
Habituation means that an organism becomes conditioned to a stimulus. In this case, wolves and coyotes become habituated when humans continually take over their habitats. By encroaching on their habitat we are causing them to become fearless of us. However, it should be noted that there has never been a documented case of a healthy wild wolf killing a human in North America. Keeping your distance, maintaining eye contact, and keeping calm can help keep wolves and coyotes away if you happen upon one, or one enters your yard.
Tips for keeping predators away:
Keeping predators away can be simple and nonlethal with a few tricks that will help prevent predators from coming into your yard, killing your livestock or pets, and becoming comfortable around people.
- Keeping a guard dog such as a Great Pyrenees or Shepherd will prevent predators from coming too close to livestock.
- Moving livestock to different pastures can prevent wolves from coming in and killing the young or sick.
- Reinforce chicken coops with heavy gauge welded wire along with a finer layer of mesh to prevent coyotes or foxes from being able to reach through.
- Putting up fences will also prevent traveling predators from entering the yard and seeking out livestock. However, predators have a heightened sense of smell and can smell up to a few miles away. For this reason it's ideal to have fencing that is 8 feet high and bends outwards on the top. In addition the fence should extend underground and bend outward for about a foot to prevent predators from trying to dig under.
- Putting up a coyote barrel (freestanding cylinder) that attaches to the top of a fence may also be an option. It prevents dogs from getting out and other animals trying to come in. It will literally roll the animal off that is trying to climb over.
Do not feed coyotes, foxes, or wolves, whether that be on purpose or by accident.
- Leaving extreme amounts of bird seed in feeders attracts small mammals, and coyotes. It may be a hassle to refill feeders daily or every two or three days, however just enough bird seed for birds is enough to keep away the rabbits and other small mammals, rodents, and with that the coyotes.
- Feed pets indoors whenever possible and store the feed where it is inaccessible from wild animals. Most raccoons, opossum, and foxes can tip over and open outside canisters with simple lids, so it is preferable to keep food locked in a shed, garage, or in the house.
- Keep garbage cans secured shut and compost piles free of meat, eggs, and easily accessible edibles.
- Bury, burn, or dispose of carcasses in fields instead of leaving them to rot.
Take Away Housing:
Trim and clean shrubs and brush to ground level. This reduces housing and hiding cover for coyotes, foxes, and their prey.
Trapping foxes and coyotes may work as a temporary fix, however new families can and may move in. Trapping also requires a license meaning you either need to pay for one, or hire an outside pest control person or company to handle this.
Despite the above tips, you may encounter the rare occurance of a wolf, coyote, or fox coming onto your property. This can be especially true if you live in the country or have moved into a new development. Hazing can be a way for you to re-teach them that they are not welcome and they should be fearful of coming near you or your property. Hazing is a method of distrubing these predators sense of security and safety, by creating noise and sights that remind them humans are something they should fear. Hazing in no way harms animals when done properly, and is legal as long as it is done correctly.
Methods of Hazing:
- Be loud and large. By waving your arms over your head and shouting, you are portraying yourself as a threat to these animals. Maintain eye contact and continue shouting, until the animal is out of sight. It is very important that you always portray yourself as confident and large whenever you are hazing an animal.
- Whistles, air horns, and bells can be used for extra noise and provide yet another unusual sound they should be afraid of.
- Hoses and other projectile objects can be another great tool. No animal wants to be sprayed with water or have things thrown at them.
Things to Remember:
- Never run away from a predator. Always keep eye contact and maintain confidence, especially if they have their head lowered and are growling, snarling, or showing their teeth.
- Do not interact with any predator that you think might be sick or injuried. These animals can be unpredictable and it is best to contact your local authorities to take care of it rather than try and scare them away.
- When hazing always make your presence known and use multiple people when possible. The more the animal can see and hear you, the more effective your hazing efforts will be. Likewise, switching up your hazing methods will introduce new sights and sounds they should be afraid of. You want to be aware of how often you are using what sounds or frightening devices such as water or light. This is necessary so the effectiveness of each tool or method is not lost and the predators become immune to certain sounds or devices.
- Don't stop hazing until the animal is completely off your property and out of site. If the animal turns around or comes back at a later time, continue to haze until they are no longer in your yard.
It is possible to live in harmony with these beautiful predators. They are only looking for food sources as we are slowly tearing apart their habitat. By using these tips we are encouraging them to stay away from humans and to find their food sources elsewhere. Winter months are long and food is scarce. With the white backdrop of snow it is easier to see the red fox and coyotes moving through the fields and pastures than it is in the summer.
Mating is in season for coyotes, foxes, and wolves and we are seeing them more often as they are looking for mates and new places to den. They have always been here, just because we can see them more, doesn't mean they have become a threat to us or our livelihood.
© 2012 Cholee Clay