A Story About Marking

Here is an interesting story which I found in a charming book by Brad Kessler entitled Goat Song.

The book chronicles the raising of goats on a small farm in Vermont. Coyotes came down from the hills to try their luck at grabbing some of the baby goats. The coyotes were elusive, and the owner was told by others in the area that the only way was to “get rid of them”. As he was a “pastoralist”, coyotes were supposed to be his foes, and he would have to “lose the luxury of appreciating all forms of life — especially those who might devalue his livestock.” But he could not accept that killing was the only way to control coyotes.

He noticed some coyote scat in his yard and that his dog urinated on it. He decided to do the same. Then the two, dog and owner, headed up to the hills, led by the dog, where again they found some more scat and proceeded as before: dog marking it and then owner marking it. They were leaving a message: “We’re here, too.”

They continued this for several days, finding less and less scat each time, until after a week they found no more. They apparently had scared the coyotes off, because no more scat appeared by the barn or on the hill which they had been patrolling, although coyotes continued to bother some of the other farmers in the area.

This is a story about coyotes’ and humans’ territoriality, and an understanding that was reached by using coyote methods. I am not sure it could ever be duplicated, but it is very interesting.

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