Predators and Neighbors

Last night we had half of our laying hens on the leased pasture killed and eaten by coyotes. About a month ago, we deactivated our perimeter electric fence at the request of the owner of the property. A neighbor had complained to the property owner that he had got a shock on the fence.

The neighbor got the shock as he was cutting our electric fence. We found our electric fence cut into numerous four inch pieces. For some reason he was upset that in the process of destroying our fence he got a shock. I must admit I am not very sympathetic to the pain someone may suffer while vandalizing our fence. Unfortunately, the owner of the property is fearful of being sued by the vandalizing neighbor. This is an unbelievable situation but it illustrates a common tension between city and country.

As we move from an agricultural society to a industrial society, people become more and more disconnected from how food is produced. I’m sure the vandalizing neighbor has reasons for his bizarre behavior but he definitely does not appreciate the reasons why we have electric fences for predator control.

Even though I honestly believe the vandalizing neighbor deserves a shock if he cuts our electric fences, I do care about the property owner’s concerns. We are trying to think of a way to have a trip-wire for the perimeter fence without causing further aggravation with the vandalizing neighbor. It just means more work re-running the wires on the inside of the fence, which unfortunately will not work as well. Or we will have to come up with some other creative solutions unknown to us at this point.

We will move the remaining flock of layers from the leased pasture back to the GO BOX site. The GO BOX site has electrified chain-link fencing. Unfortunately, predators know a good thing when they find it. The coyotes will be back and the hogs and calves are still on the leased pasture. Of course, coyotes also eat pet cats and dogs. We lost our cat Tabs a few weeks ago to coyotes.

If you are wondering why I am not focusing on the coyote problem it is because I don’t see it as THE problem. Predators are a part of life. Farming and permaculture increases wildlife. We have helped the populations of numerous wild species such as: ravens, pigeons, rodents, squirrels, coyotes, and many song birds. The leased pasture is full of life. Predators are just doing what comes naturally to them. My job is not to eliminate their population but to find ways to limit their predation on my livestock. When thinking about predators, I think about the problems the predators solve for me, without my knowledge. If I kill a “problem” predator, I might find I have a population explosion of another pest.

I see the main problem as a classic city-country conflict. It is also a conflict of asserting private property rights and issues of trespass. I know the vandalizing neighbor and his buddies used to walk across the leased pasture before it was perimeter fenced. It must be irritating not to be able to take a short-cut through the property anymore. Not being able to use the property as a dump must be irritating too. Over the last few months, we have removed over 2.5 tons of garbage from the property. Finally, it must be hard having to find another “park” where your dog can take a shit and no one requires you to clean-up after your animal.

With friends like that, who needs enemies.
English Proverbs