Looking Back 6: Homestead Predators - Lions and Wolves and Bears, Oh, My


Mosquito Mountain Montana HomesteadOur situation is unusual when it comes to large predators we have to deal with. The majority of homesteaders don't have grizzly and black bears, mountain lions, wolves, bobcats, lynx, and coyotes for neighbors. In reality, few of them actually give us problems although we still take precautions to protect ourselves and our animals.

The best homestead defense against most large predators is a good dog. You don't necessarily need a large dog, but it must be one of at least moderate size (to keep from being food for mountain lions); it needs to be smart enough to know when rousing the household is better than engaging the "enemy"; and it needs to be able to run loose and yet stay home.

Our current dog is great at all of the above. Those we had that weren't were taken to the animal shelter to be adopted by other owners.

Equally necessary are good fences designed to protect your animals from predators. Our chicken house and run is near the cabin and has wire over the top giving them protection on the sides, ends, and threats from above.

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We've never had many problems with coyotes, bobcats or lynx. I believe that is mainly because of our dog(s), past and present. I know they've been near the cabin because of the tracks and other sign that they leave. The only chicken we've lost to predators was "Houdini Hen." She was a true escape artist and we could never keep her inside the chicken run. Eventually I just quit trying. She had built a nest in the wood shed and laid her eggs there. I noticed though, that she had begun to wander farther from the cabin and figured that it wouldn't be long before she didn't come home. She particularly liked the compost piles at the back of the garden. One day I noticed she was not around and did a quick search. The feathers I found indicated that she'd been nabbed by a coyote or bobcat. She was a good layer and we missed her.

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