The MHWC would like to address the recent incident in Lapeer County involving a coyote attack on a horse. Please keep in mind that the odds of such an incident occurring are still extremely minimal. In fact, in the MLive article on January 26 about the incident, DNR wildlife technician Jon Curtis stated that in his years as a wildlife technician for the DNR, “…he can count on zero fingers the numbers of times coyotes have taken down a large animal.”
The MHWC has confirmed that the mare that was attacked was not only elderly, but was also alone at the time of the attack (if only for a short time). With this in mind, the MHWC encourages horse owners to follow these tips to protect their animals from predators and other hazards:
SAFTEY IN NUMBERS
The MHWC urges horse owners to not keep horses alone –not only for their safety, but also for their general happiness. Horses are herd animals who benefit from the protection of their herd mates, and if kept alone, they can become quite depressed.
DONKIFY YOUR PROPERTY
Not only will the addition of a donkey to your herd possibly rectify your lone horse problem, but donkeys also serve as wonderful guardians against predators. In fact, they are so effective in protecting livestock that the Michigan DNR supplies farmers in the UP with donkeys to protect their livestock from predators.
According to Mother Earth News, “Donkeys who do attack a predator will be very aggressive, using their teeth and hooves. They may bray loudly. They will charge the threat and attempt to chase it away. If they confront the predator, they will attempt to bite at the neck, back, chest or buttocks. They may slash out with their hooves or turn and kick the predator. Experienced owners strongly suggest you do not attempt to stop a donkey that is charging or attacking and that afterwards, you allow the donkey to calm down before approaching it.”
And there are LOTS of donkeys/burros in need of homes here in Michigan.
Adopt locally via one of our partner rescues: http://www.michiganhorsewelfare.org/adopt
You can also adopt a wild burro via the BLM: http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/whbprogram/adoption_program/how_to_adopt.html
ABOUT THOSE COYOTES
It is important to understand the importance of the presences of predators like coyotes to our ecosystem, and to know the basics of predator/prey relationships. Simply put, killing coyotes in your area in an attempt to minimize conflicts with livestock or pets simply does not work, and by doing so you are removing animals who provide vital rodent control. According to the predator specialists at Project Coyote:
“Even in fragmented and urbanized landscapes, coyotes can play an integral role in their environment by helping to maintain healthy ecosystems and species diversity. One way they do this is by helping to regulate mesocarnivore populations, which consist of mid-sized predators like foxes, raccoons, opossums and skunks… Similar findings involving coyotes have been made elsewhere in North America, revealing both direct and indirect effects on waterfowl, songbirds and rodents. So, in addition to providing free rodent control services, coyotes help maintain avian diversity by keeping bird-eating predators in check.”
Other deterrence tips from Project Coyote:
- Keep cats indoors and livestock protected in predator-proof enclosures, especially at night
- Walk your dog on a leash, particularly during coyote pupping and denning season (spring) when adult coyotes may be more territorial and protective of their young
- Don’t leave pet food outside
- Secure garbage cans and compost piles
- Put garbage out the morning of scheduled pick-up instead of the night before
- Pick up fallen fruit (coyotes eat fruit!)
- Ensure that bird feeders don’t overflow (coyotes are attracted to both the birdseed and the rodents who are attracted to the birdseed)
- Landscape to reduce hiding and denning areas around homes
- Keep a clean yard and neighborhood
A device called the “Coyote Roller” has also proven effective in preventing coyotes from jumping over tall fences: http://www.coyoteroller.com/
For more information about living in harmony with coyotes and other native wildlife, please visit Project Coyote at www.projectcoyote.org, and The Humane Society of the United States at www.humanesociety.org/animals/coyotes/tips/solving_problems.html.
Thank you for caring about Michigan’s horses!