Tooth and Nail: Ranching With Predators

Tooth and Nail: Ranching With Predators

News Type: State, Regional, Federal Source: On Pasture
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My relationship with predators goes way back. At the age of nine, I began protecting the family ranch by trying to shoot any animal that might fairly be called a “varmint”. The list was long: coyote, fox, raccoon, mink, nutria, musk rat, chicken hawk, falcon, opossum, weasel, blue jay, kestrel, starling, sparrow and on and on and on. Eagles? Well, truth be told, we didn’t have any eagles back then. Now, those lamb-snatchers are everywhere. Makes me glad I don’t have lambs.

Funny how things change. Nowadays, it’s a fairly frequent occurrence for a car to pull into the driveway, a rattled driver trotting to the door to tell me that there are some coyotes roaming around a field within sight of the highway. Oh! And there are some cows in that field, too. Often, there are offers to run home and get a rifle. Next comes the look of absolute confusion when I explain that the coyotes are just part of the deal here, that they’re just hunting mice anyway, that…no…“We don’t shoot ‘em.”

I’ve quit shooting all those other varmints, too. Turns out, I kind of like having the hawks and weasels around. And the starlings? Well, heck, I’ve recently become a bit enamored with them, too.

So, what’s happened around here to change my view of predators?