Friday, June 3, 2011

A new predator

When I was doing chores Tuesday night, I discovered that the setting goose was gone and so were all of her eggs. I couldn't even find an egg shell. What kind of predator could have taken her without leaving any feathers? And what could eat eggs without leaving any shells? I mentioned it on the Antiquity Oaks Facebook page, and a few people offered guesses. A snake seemed the most likely egg thief because they do swallow eggs whole, but I couldn't figure out who could have taken the goose. The area is fenced, but I supposed some might have forgotten and left a gate open at some point.

Wednesday was one of those days that felt like a week. I woke up knowing that the final draft of my book would be waiting in my inbox. I'd be spending the whole day giving it one final read before giving the thumb's up for it to be put into book form. Talk about nerve wracking!

I was sitting at the computer, which is in front of a window overlooking the barnyard, and I heard our livestock guardian dog barking viciously. He was standing at the fence of the goat pasture looking towards the chicken house. I turned towards the chicken house and saw something large and gray on the other side of the fence. After a few seconds, I screamed, "Coyote! Coyote!" Mike ran to get a gun from upstairs but the coyote disappeared down the hill. Mike went running after it as I started to process what I'd seen. It was huge -- much taller than the chickens. Coyotes are only 40 pounds. It was very gray. Coyotes are more brown-gray-reddish. Could it have been a wolf?

When Mike got back, he started talking about how big the coyote was -- at least twice as big as any coyote he'd seen before. I asked if he thought it could have been a wolf, and to my surprise -- because he is always Mr. Cool -- he said yes. I googled "wolves in Illinois" and read an article in the Chicago Tribune that said a wolf siting was confirmed about 60 miles from here in March. Not good. We have two dogs, six llamas, and guns, but llamas are not effective guardians against wolves, only coyotes. The dogs can't be in every pasture every minute of every day and neither can we.

But I didn't have time to think about the predator because I had to finish reading my manuscript. So, while everyone else decided to spend a lot of time near the chicken house, I got back to work on my computer. We haven't seen the predator again, and as far as we know, we haven't lost any more animals. But if we've learned anything out here, it's that coyotes don't go far if they think there is a free meal to be had. I read that wolves will range over hundreds of miles, so maybe it would be lucky if this is a wolf. Maybe he'll move on?

9 comments:

Michelle said...

Wow, that is both cool and scary! I admire and respect big predators, but realize they don't mix well with people, pets, and livestock. Out here we have the occasional mountain lion (sighted in our area but not by us) and an overabundance of deer - I think we need more cougars to hunt them! Our horses, sheep and dogs are secured inside at night....

Mama Pea said...

It sure sounds like what you saw was a wolf. We have plenty of them up here in NE Minnesota and I know they are in Wisconsin to some extent but I wouldn't think they would still be thriving in Illinois. A big timber wolf could definitely carry off a goose, but I'm surprised you didn't see any scattered feathers from the kill. And did a snake come back after the goose was taken and eat the eggs? Here's hoping Mr./Mrs. Wolf doesn't come back.

LindaG said...

Whatever it was, I hope you don't see it again.
Have a safe, good weekend. ♥

Possum Hill Farms said...

Canines usually destroy the carcass. I lost three of my ducks to a coyote, and it was havoc and devastation all through the yard. My former roommate's dog killed another of my ducks. Feathers and blood everywhere. It probably was a wolf, they are much larger than a coyote. And coyotes do come back again and again.

Sarah said...

If it is a wolf, there are many ways to deter it from entering your fences. I found one way here: http://myyellowstonewolves.typepad.com/myw/2008/03/non-lethal-dete.html I have heard that there are other ways, too that don't involve killing the animal - just scaring it away. Just wanted to pass it along. :)

Spinners End Farm said...

Could it have been a large dog Deborah or a wolf/dog hybrid? A large dog or a wolf could carry off a large bird intact, though it seems like she'd have a fit while the eggs were being eaten (if Indeed by the same critter).

We have a chicken that lays eggs in the barn and many times when I'd go in the barn to get the egg it was gone. I got lucky one day and watched one of the Pygora goats nudge the hen off and eat the egg shell and all....leaving no mess whatsoever! She does have a nice shiny coat...

Sharon said...

Hi Deborah
The coyotes we get in Nova Scotia have become crossed with wolves somewhere along the way. They aren't like the ones back in Alberta. They are a lot bigger, scarier and have been attacking people. It's not fun.

BTW. I have nominated you for the Stylish Blogger Award on my site. Hubby and I do much the same thing as you. We were city folks until December and now we are starting a farm.

Anton said...

Well, I have a new predator too. Two nights ago something got through my fence and ate an entire clutch of ducklings. The hen got away. Last night the same something got into my barn. The first time my barn has been breached. It killed a full grown chocolate turkey sitting on eggs. Tonight I've set up a live trap and electric wiring around the perimeter as well as blocked any holes getting into the barn. I feel just as violated by this as when my house was robbed years ago. Fingers crossed.

Twwly said...

There are no wolves left where we live, they are all coy-wolves, half breeds....

Best of luck!

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails