For years, my wife and I have worked to attract more deer, turkey, quail, and song birds to our place. We have planted trees to provide both nuts and cover and food plots that are enjoyed by a large variety of wildlife. We have left cover at the edge of prairie areas and brush piles for shelter. We have had a large degree of success in most areas. The unintended result is we also have increased the number of predators that live at our place. Nature has a way of balancing things in spite of our best efforts.
I saw the first bob cat in the wild at our place about ten years ago. It was a couple of years before I saw another. Now we see one at least once per month. They are reclusive animals that had very low population numbers just a few years ago. With the increase in habitat and food sources, their population seems to have increased dramatically. They prey on everything from mice and voles to turkeys and deer fawn.
Raccoons and opossums take a toll on eggs and chicks of turkey, quail, pheasants, and song birds. A few years ago, fur prices were high and we were not over-run. Since wearing fur and trapping is not as popular, we have more than enough fat and happy raccoons and ‘possums.’ They do a lot of good by eating insects, snakes, and mice, but I wish they would be a bit more discriminating when it comes to preying on the animals we are trying to promote.
Coyotes are probably our biggest annoyance when it comes to predators. They will eat anything and everything. They insects, frogs, deer, ducks, geese, turkeys, cats, and dogs. They will kill sheep, goats, and sometimes calves. They are able to adapt to changing habitat, hunting pressure and availability of food. Our place must provide the ideal environment for coyotes. No matter how many are removed, it seems the population stays constant. A local group of hunters will hunt our section about once each month. They always get one or two. Over the past few months, I have thinned out another three, one that was intent on catching and killing our dogs. They are getting too aggressive when I can shoot them from the front porch. No sooner is one coyote removed from the gene pool when it is replaced by another. It is a common sight on the trails around the farm to see a pile of rabbit fur or feathers from a turkey or goose.
It is not that I begrudge the predators their fair share. I just wish they would stick to eating things we are not trying increase. Our efforts to help some wildlife will benefit all whether we like it or not. We cannot control nature, just give it an assist here and there.