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Coyote Holes

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  • Coyote Holes

    Not positive, but pretty sure. A month or so ago, I was walking my pastures as I do when I pick up manure. I saw two holes. Initially I thought "oh no, groundhogs". I put my hand down the holes to see how deep, and they were maybe only about 10 or so inches and then stopped, so there was not tunnel (yet). As I walked around, I found one more hole where I could feel the bottom. Beside that hole was some feces that looked similar to dog feces. It was not groundhog feces because I know what that looks like. Futher research leads me to believe this is from coyotes trying to dig a den. i know there are coyotes nearby because I hear them howling at night.

    This morning, I find they tried again to dig a hole in precisely the same place as before. This happens to be an area where there used to be a fence and the fence post holes have been filled in. Apparently the dirt is softer there, but I had my farm worker fill that in with stonedust screenings that should harden when wet and dried.

    Now here's the thing. These holes are horse leg breaking holes should a horse step in one. I can't walk every inch of 5 acres every day to make sure there are no holes. I don't know what to do, and unfortunately I doubt there are any answers but to pray there aren't going to be too many holes and that a horse doesn't step in one. I'm so not for killing animals, but in this case I would make an exception.

    Thanks for reading my vent.

  • #2
    Scary to hear someone just reaching into a hole!

    Here you may get bitten by a rattler, not recommended to stick hands anywhere you can't see clearly there is nothing there.

    Do you have badgers there?
    They are known for making many holes anywhere they track by smell something under there.
    So do other like coons and skunks, but not as large or as many holes.

    Coyotes here make large, deep dens but only one in any one place, not several holes.

    Look for any droppings and tracks in the soft dirt and you may be able to tell what is digging there?

    Comment


    • #3
      I have a dozen or more of those type holes on my farm but mine are made by gopher turtles. Sometimes other animals come in and used them for dens also when the turtle isn't in there. I've tried all manners of getting rid of the holes and they
      just make new ones nearby so now I just put up cones or other obstacles to let the horses know not to step there.

      Bluey's right, don't ever put your hands in animal holes. Many snakes use those holes also.
      "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Marla 100 View Post
        I have a dozen or more of those type holes on my farm but mine are made by gopher turtles. Sometimes other animals come in and used them for dens also when the turtle isn't in there. I've tried all manners of getting rid of the holes and they
        just make new ones nearby so now I just put up cones or other obstacles to let the horses know not to step there.

        Bluey's right, don't ever put your hands in animal holes. Many snakes use those holes also.
        Interesting, dry land turtles, not sure those are the ones we have here, ours are smaller.
        We have also the big snapping turtles in water holes, dams and ponds and such.

        Sounds like those gopher turtles are very important in your ecology:

        ---"The gopher tortoise is a species of turtle in the family Testudinidae.
        The species is native to the southeastern United States.
        The gopher tortoise is seen as a keystone species because it digs burrows that provide shelter for at least 360 other animal species"---

        Sure may be what the OP has there.

        This may be right down the alley for wildlifer to tell us more?

        Comment


        • #5
          we have coyotes that our German Shepard is greatly offended by their presence .... our ground is hard to dig and have never seen an attempt to dig a den

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Bluey View Post

            Interesting, dry land turtles, not sure those are the ones we have here, ours are smaller.
            We have also the big snapping turtles in water holes, dams and ponds and such.

            Sounds like those gopher turtles are very important in your ecology:

            ---"The gopher tortoise is a species of turtle in the family Testudinidae.
            The species is native to the southeastern United States.
            The gopher tortoise is seen as a keystone species because it digs burrows that provide shelter for at least 360 other animal species"---

            Sure may be what the OP has there.

            This may be right down the alley for wildlifer to tell us more?
            Gopher tortoises are a a southern species so not likely in New Jersey where OP is located.
            Also gopher Tortoises are endangered and we're not allowed to relocate them. I try to feel honored that I have so many living harmoniously on my property (NOT). Other than the long burrows, some 40-50 ft. long and totally underground, they're really harmless. Unless you have a big tractor that collapses the tunnel and you get stuck.
            "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin

            Comment


            • #7
              Around here I would suspect foxes.
              "We need a pinned ears icon." -MysticOakRanch

              Comment


              • #8
                Digging a den is normal canine behavior. Do you have any vulnerable animals? We have chickens locked up in the coop at night and a sheep barn that is fully enclosed (coyotes and bobcats will go after a young lamb). Our barn cats have a barn that is safe from canines.

                Maybe ask your local county extension agent if there have been any specific problems with coyotes in your area. Ask if there has been any predation on local livestock, specifically.

                We had foxes living in old gopher tortoise nests at our old place. Those tortoises provide ready made homes for all sorts of species.

                I actually loved our foxes. Such a cool noise at night. Our GSD hated them. He went nuts when he heard them. I was watching a British mystery show one night (one of those pretty little village shows with bodies along trim walking trails and lots of well dressed people). There was a fox sound effect that got our dog going. Guess he didn't hear it's accent...

                Comment


                • #9
                  Hmm lots of coyotes around here and have never heard of them digging a den in the middle of a field. That said, we have plenty of ravines and wind fell trees that offer many more den options.

                  I might consider that coyotes or foxes are digging after something (moles, etc) before digging a den in an open field. Or would think about other animals...skunks, possibly?

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Thanks for all your replies. Things have gotten worse this morning. I see that there is a huge hole right beside my vertical pasture fence post. The hole is filled with water as it has been raining non-stop for over a day. I stuck the end of my pitchfork handle in it, and it's deep and may even have started a tunnel. There is a lot of dirt beside it indicating digging. The other two places in the open field are disturbed as well, but no hole yet. They left some droppings there. Originally my worry was a hole a horse could step in. Now my worry is the fence post becoming loose and and the fence line coming down. That has happened before with lots of rain. The posts get water logged, rot, break, and down comes a panel of fencing, leaving the horse head straight up for the road.

                    I scooped up the feces in a little container. I don't know if there is anyplace I can take it to get it identified. Interestingly, this little pile looks different than the piles I saw before.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I've never had foxes or coyotes dig out in the open - ours typically dig along tree lines and where there's already some kind of ground cover growing. Meaning, the biggest danger is to me - on more than one occasion I've been known to step into a den, all the way up to my hip. Instead of collecting droppings, try and get a good pic with something relative for size. There's literally an app for that. If not, your local DNR should be able to easily help.

                      It's not an easy (or quiet) fix by any means, but an untended consequence to adding a coonhound to our little pack has been a deterrence of wildlife near the house and barn. That. howl. carries.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The easiest way to figure out what is making the holes is to invest in a game camera and set it up to snap photos of whatever appears to keep coming back.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Can you look for tracks early in the morning? That's how I identify creatures. There should be some near the entrance to the den. Much less messy than collecting poop.

                          Here's one website that might be useful, but there are many more. Try your state wildlife website as well.

                          https://www.outdoorlife.com/identify...animal-tracks/

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Get your game warden and ask him to come see what is going on there.

                            Here ours has his office in the sheriff's department, a good place to start asking if you don't know who yours is in your area.

                            Feral hogs also dig holes big enough to topple fence posts, but not tunnels, that would not be them.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Sounds like armadillos but you are too far north for them. At least I hope they haven't gotten to New Jersey yet.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Are you in NJ? Oh my goodness, we just visited there and saw two giant rats (nutrias) Could it be one of those? The ones down here live in the swamps, but the ones up there were strolling around an industrial area, taking in the sights. They have a distinct track.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Ground hogs dig holes - and tunnel - here, although they are not around in the winter. I'm in Ontario.
                                  We have lots of coyotes here and have never had them dig holes.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    You should ask your state mammal biologist. That doesn't sound like coyote behavior to me.

                                    Here is a link for NJ: https://www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/

                                    I can't get it to load on the phone I'm using right now, but they should have a public information # & email for you to use.
                                    Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                                    Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                                    We Are Flying Solo

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Coyote poop looks like dog poop but with lots of hair in it. Slightly smaller than dog poop.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Can you put a have a heart trap in w some dog food and see if you catch a groundhog? Won’t fit a coyote but process of elimination? I would try to section off holes w some jumps if you have some so the horses don't step in them. I would suspect groundhogs If in a fence line. I’ve seen some very sizeable groundhog holes.

                                        Comment

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