The Battle Against Predators

July 25, 2022

Before this year I hadn’t had many run-ins with predators. I have seen your typical coyote run across the field or raccoons going through my trash, but here I am with nine chickens KIA (Killed In Action) and one chicken MIA (Missing In Action). All from raccoons. This has changed my mind about what predator hunting means. I never had much interest in predator hunting, because I typically hunt or fish for the benefit of filling my freezer. Through this experience with the chickens, I now see the importance. I understand what role it takes in the conservation of my State and my local areas. I will be participating in predator hunting and trapping from this point forward.

Defending Your Property Against Predators

As I walked up to the barn door to let the chickens out for the day I noticed the latch was not secured all the way. As soon as I opened the door I saw all of the chickens scattered through the coop. Some were missing their heads, fresh raccoon scat, and of course there were feathers everywhere. I don’t think you can ever be prepared enough for critters to come in and wreak havoc.

When defending against predators on your property, you have to know what you’re defending against. What on your property would convince an animal that it needs to step onto your property and destroy your garden, kill all of your chickens, or slaughter your cows? Here in Missouri we typically deal with coyotes, raccoons, eagles and hawks, foxes, bobcats, and black bears. The list goes on for other regions of the country and quite frankly, I’m glad we don’t have to deal with wolves or grizzly bears. Knowing which of these animals you’re dealing with is going to give you a better idea of how to deal with them. If you’re having issues with an animal on your property, using trail cameras is the best way to find out what it is. Use this link to learn more about the uses of trail cameras.

The most common methods of defense are trapping, killing, and deterring. Trapping animals like raccoons, foxes, and opossums are very common. When killing a predator on your property, make sure you understand the laws in your State. The last thing you want is your neighbor calling into the police of the Department of Conservation and telling them your shooting a bunch of raccoons in your backyard for no reason. Ensure you are legally and ethically disposing of that animal. Just as if you were hunting any other animal, a clean swift kill is preferred. Deterring animals off your property can be done with making noises, keeping a radio on, or simply yelling at the critter to “scram”.

Conservation With Predators

Like many other states in Missouri, our most common predator is the coyote. They are known to eat fawn in the spring and elderly deer throughout the year. Many people have witnessed a pack of coyotes take down a strong mature buck. All predators have a role to play in their ecosystem. Keeping population of small game in check, cleaning up after other animals by eating scraps, and eating sick or old animals are a few ways they can impact your local ecosystem.

Predators can also negatively impact the ecosystem you live in. The population of turkeys in Missouri has almost been cut in half since 2004 and that has a direct correlation to predation in our state. As times change and predators fluctuate their diets due to availability, this could also happen to other species of animals we hunt in Missouri. The impact predators have on their prey has potential to last for a long time. Rebuilding a turkey population takes many years and a lot effort from the conservation, hunters, and outdoorsman of our state.

the ongoing battle against predators will never end. As outdoorsmen, we may not be interested in hunting predators, but we should at least know how they impact our ecosystem. Get out there and be a part of the conservation in your area!