There be coyotes in them thar woods!

We are very lucky in the Yukon to have so much wilderness right outside our doors. But sometimes the inhabitants of said wilderness decide that they like our neighbourhoods as much as we do.

Bears, wolves, coyotes and foxes most frequently come to mind. Not so commonly thought about are the winged variety (eagles, hawks, owls and ravens) being the most common takers of pets and livestock.

Before I go any further, let me make it clear that as far as I am concerned, we are the ones who are in the wildlife’s backyard and not the other way around. As such, it is up to us to keep our animals and property out of harm’s way.

Last fall, I lost a large number of laying hens to a martin. The solution? Lock the birds in for the winter and plan a better pen for the summer.

This spring, I moved a batch of young chickens out of the brooder house into a large pen, only to lose 12 birds in the first two hours to ravens.

I had never had problems with ravens before, so it was a new dilemma for me. The short-term solution was to crisscross baler-twine and surveyors tape over the entire top of the pen. I think I now have the most colourful chicken pen in the Yukon. This worked well to discourage the birds from entering, as their wings could not fit through.

Until today, that is. I discovered that the ravens were actually climbing down the wire into the pen. Two were trapped in the pen just a bit ago and I had to catch them in order to get them out and set them free. But again, I’m the one who has essentially put out a buffet for all the meat-loving critters in the area.

New pens with solid wire tops are in the works as we speak.

And now, a pack of coyotes that has taken up residence in the backyard. Never be fooled into thinking that there is only one coyote in the area when you see one. They travel in packs and simply split up to hunt. Even though they are smaller than wolves, they can still take down a large dog.

My dogs had a run in with the new neighbours this morning as I was getting ready to do chores. Luckily no major injuries were sustained, but little Hinabi nearly got taken, she came back with puncture marks on her back. Even Molly had a small wound on one hip. It looks like I have to speed up the fencing of the property.

It’s all about keeping one step ahead of the hungry critters roaming the woods.

Although winter is the main time of year that pets are taken by predators, looking out for the safety of our animals is a year-round affair when living in the North. It sometimes just needs a little creative thinking.

Contact Jaime Hanna with your questions at crittertalk101@hotmail.com.

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