Thursday, October 7, 2010

People vs.Dogs vs. Coyote Traps

When we moved here  two years ago our Aussie rescue dogs, Nutmeg and Cocoa, were overjoyed to go from being urban pooches to being farm dogs  - with 10 acres to explore,  track rabbits and chase squirrels!!
We spent a lot of time, effort and money trying to to keep them in the yard, however. There is a  fence around the pasture,  encircling about half the perimeter of our farm, but they can squeeze under almost anywhere. We installed wireless fencing around the back yard with radio collars but they endured the shock to go out into the woods after a squirrel - and then were unwilling to  come back into the yard. We tried putting up a plastic garden fence with electric wires at the top and bottom, a totally ineffective effort. I guess they have figured out that shocks are only a momentary discomfort.

Finally we just gave up on the dog fencing.  They learned the approximate boundaries of our land and never bother the neighbors or their livestock.  Most of the time they stay in the yard, responsibly protecting the chickens and watching over the farm. They do cross the gravel road to check on the rabbit situation, however and we worry about cars, but we are apparently poor dog trainers -- Nutmeg, especially, is totally recalcitrant when it comes to rabbits.

We had come to a guilty acceptance of the risk of our dogs crossing the road. But then two weeks ago, our farmer neighbor's son stopped by and mentioned that in order to protect the pheasant population, they were inviting a trapper to trap coyotes in the ditch and the adjacent prairie, so we might want to keep our dogs tied. I asked him what kind of traps? "Snares."I asked him when he would be trapping? "October through March." Six months!

I looked up info on coyote traps and called a trapping supply dealer and learned that the snares are baited,  attractive to all canines, and generally fatal to both coyotes and dogs.  It sounds like a horrible death -- as the animal struggles to get away, the snare tightens around its neck and strangles it.  Even being extremely vigilant, at some point in six months our dogs are going to get out, no doubt. If they smell  a good, stinky bait smell, they are going to investigate it.    My heart was in my throat.  I dearly love these dogs and am sickened by the thought of them getting into one of these traps. (I am also sickened by the thought of a coyote getting into one.)
We brainstormed with all our dog trainer friends - what about a shock collar --not recommended, especially since  the electric fence failed to contain them.  Could we get some of the coyote bait and  do some kind of aversion training with it?  Should we build a  kennel?
Finally, we decided our best option was to install a metal garden fence around the back yard. Rog was skeptical, but it had worked to keep our dogs out of our garden so I thought it was worth a try. It is affordable (compared to chain link fence) so we could fence in a large area--a size that would be paradise for normal dogs not used to running on 10 acres. Plus it is easy to install and move.  We got 350 feet  of fencing; by  incorporating our buildings, patio fence and cattle gates we could enclose a 100 x 200 foot area.
I spent a sunny afternoon last week pounding in the stakes along the  perimeter of the back yard with a sledge hammer and attaching the fencing. My goal was to finish it before Rog came home from work, but I didn't quite make it.  My  arms and shoulders were  very grateful when he got home and took over the last stretch.

We attached garden fencing to the bottom of the cattle gates to deter the dogs from squeezing under.  One of our patio gates opens into the dog yard so when we let them out at night or in winter, we can  just open the house door and they can access the yard (we know, we are kind of lazy and wimpy.)  We still have to figure out a dog -proof closure for the front gate to the patio.
The fence has  been up for a week now with significant success. Each time the dogs figure out a way out, we figure out a way to confound them. This weekend we will tackle all the vulnerable-looking spots.

Curiously, Nutmeg and Cocoa somehow seem to have intuited our concern about leaving the property.  Although they have gotten out a few times, they have stayed in the yard and have not once attempted to cross the road. We are also working very hard on getting them to respond more obediently by providing lavish praise and tasty treats.  They are not very happy about being restricted, as you can see by their expressions in the top photo, but all the extra attention and treats must be some consolation.

9 comments:

Marie said...

after mama coyote ate Leah, Rachel, Lucille and Lydia my favorite nesting pheasants -- my opinion of them changed .... have gun will shoot ... I don't have any dogs so .. the neighbor's dogs got lured out one night -- never to be seen alive again. ... nasty nasty nasty creatures.... I won't start on the cougar .... she (he) has been seen lately .... and I literally live on the edge of city limits....

katiegirl said...

I hope the fencing works! The traps sound like an awful way to go... Hopefully your pups will get used to the "confinement" after a while. :-)

daphne sy said...

yea yeah. . good luck!=)

healthy flat

Cheri said...

ewww the traps sound horrible.
I feel your pain with trying to confound dogs on a "country lot" --- our dog will run through our fence in pursuit of a squirrel too. We worry about cars -- but at least there aren't many.
Hope your fence continues to work for you!

0087Adam said...

I just want to clarify that snares are not baited, they are set in trails that the coyote is supposedly using. They are usually a live trap unless the coyote gets tangled in something. there is no way to bait snares, and even if you found a way, a coyote would be outsmarted by it. However if he is setting foot traps (most common), he is probably using a dirt hole set, which is made to look like a mouse hole. Foot traps are not fatal either. There is no kill trap for canines, conibears of sufficient size(330 +)must be set underwater, so dogs can't get to them. The trapper then decides what to do with them when he arrives to check them the next day. I have caught dogs before, they are fine in both of these traps.

Susan said...

Hi Adam. These are neck snares. I did a lot of Internet reading and called a nearby trapping supply dealer. Techniques and regulations must vary from region to region, but the dealer confirmed they do use bait and it is attractive to all canines. He said if a dog does not struggle the snare will not tighten and the dog may be released, but in his experience dogs do not usually fare very well. Fortunately, my dogs have not yet found the traps, so they must not be set near their usual rounds. The weather is getting much colder now, so they tend to stay pretty close to home

Angela Pederson said...

We live in the home my husband was raised in on 12 acres, and for the past 40 years numerous family dogs happily explored the forest without incidents involving snares. Our sweet girl Nicole (golden lab/rhodesian ridgeback mix) went out to do her business last tuesday night, but didn't return. I was alarmed in the morning when she was still missing. Long story short, she was released from the neck snare she has suffered in after 3 freezing nights. It was nothing short of a miracle that she didn't freeze to death, choke to death or get eaten alive by other predators. I even contacted the neighbor the morning she went missing to ask if he had any snares out. He didn't respond until two nights later stating that he didn't think it was likely she was in his snare and that he wouldn't be checking the snare until the next day. I pleaded with him to allow us or one of his friends on the property to find and check the snare. He refused to have the snare checked until the next afternoon. Meanwhile wracked with worry my husband and I did an extenstive search of our property for two days. I had printed off dozens of fliers and several posters that I posted in local establishments, at stop signs, neighborhoods and handed out to as many property owners as I could find surrounding our property. I checked the dog shelter daily and posted her missing on craigslist and through our local shelter's website. Friday afternoon, I thought I was hullicinating when I saw our sweet girl standing at the top of our backyard stairway. My kids and I were thrilled to see her and she felt the same. After endless hugs and kisses and Nicole inhaling a large bowl of food and water I started to inspect her for injury. The bloody indentations around her head and throat was enough to know where she had been all this time. I was furious. I had contacted this neighbor repeatedly to have his snare checked, and he took his sweet time with no concern for our dog or our panic. After sending him an angry text he simply stated to keep my dog off his property. He said that he was putting up an additional 4 snares and if he caught her in one next time he wasn't going to let us know. This feels like a nightmare. I don't know what this guys problem is, but I'm researching our rights in this situation. Oregon has some of the most leiniate snare regulations, but some groups are working hard at passing stricter laws that protect pets from these cruel devices. Fencing our property just isn't practical, and we don't feel we should have to live by this bully's rules. If Nicole goes missing again we will simply go to his home and demand to check the snares or do our own search of his property.

Angela Pederson said...

We live in the home my husband was raised in on 12 acres, and for the past 40 years numerous family dogs happily explored the forest without incidents involving snares. Our sweet girl Nicole (golden lab/rhodesian ridgeback mix) went out to do her business last tuesday night, but didn't return. I was alarmed in the morning when she was still missing. Long story short, she was released from the neck snare she has suffered in after 3 freezing nights. It was nothing short of a miracle that she didn't freeze to death, choke to death or get eaten alive by other predators. I even contacted the neighbor the morning she went missing to ask if he had any snares out. He didn't respond until two nights later stating that he didn't think it was likely she was in his snare and that he wouldn't be checking the snare until the next day. I pleaded with him to allow us or one of his friends on the property to find and check the snare. He refused to have the snare checked until the next afternoon. Meanwhile wracked with worry my husband and I did an extenstive search of our property for two days. I had printed off dozens of fliers and several posters that I posted in local establishments, at stop signs, neighborhoods and handed out to as many property owners as I could find surrounding our property. I checked the dog shelter daily and posted her missing on craigslist and through our local shelter's website. Friday afternoon, I thought I was hullicinating when I saw our sweet girl standing at the top of our backyard stairway. My kids and I were thrilled to see her and she felt the same. After endless hugs and kisses and Nicole inhaling a large bowl of food and water I started to inspect her for injury. The bloody indentations around her head and throat was enough to know where she had been all this time. I was furious. I had contacted this neighbor repeatedly to have his snare checked, and he took his sweet time with no concern for our dog or our panic. After sending him an angry text he simply stated to keep my dog off his property. He said that he was putting up an additional 4 snares and if he caught her in one next time he wasn't going to let us know. This feels like a nightmare. I don't know what this guys problem is, but I'm researching our rights in this situation. Oregon has some of the most leiniate snare regulations, but some groups are working hard at passing stricter laws that protect pets from these cruel devices. Fencing our property just isn't practical, and we don't feel we should have to live by this bully's rules. If Nicole goes missing again we will simply go to his home and demand to check the snares or do our own search of his property.

Susan said...

Oh Angela, what a horror story! Our coyote-trapping story had a happy ending--no dogs were harmed and no coyotes were trapped the first few months, so they abandoned the idea.
Maybe your neighbor would at least give you a map of where the traps are so you can doa timely search if your dog doesn't return home. He doesn't sound very empathetic, tho. Hopefully now that your dog has had such a terrible experience he will recognize and avoid them at all costs.