Predators and nuisance animals are the bane of the homesteader. They literally eat our hard labor and profits. In many states, it is perfectly legal to shoot or trap an animal that is harassing your livestock or eating your fruits and vegetables.
In California, where we live, these laws get sticky, but it is still possible.
We mostly focus on trapping and dispatching the critters we catch them because the law states we would otherwise have to release it where we caught it. Which obviously does us absolutely no good.
We are required to have our traps tagged before we do any trapping. Different states have different rules. Make sure you know yours. Also, make sure you are trapping what you think you are trapping. It is very disconcerting to think you are trapping a rabbit that has been eating your vegetation and find a skunk waiting in your trap the next morning.
When we do need to shoot an animal, it is usually not planned. This more often occurs when something is attacking our livestock. A bear, mountain lion, coyote, or, more often, a dog. We usually reserve a high-powered paint gun for dogs and use more lethal means if it returns.
This method serves two purposes, 1) it teaches the dog that it is painful to attack livestock on our property and sometimes teaches it to stay away and 2) it lets the owners know that their dog has been somewhere it probably ought to not be and that its life could be in danger if it continues to wander.
For coyotes and foxes, a 22 works just fine. I’ve used snake shot (sometimes called rat shot) in a little handgun while riding on trails before to scare off overly enthusiastic dogs, coyotes, and other small creatures in the desert.
I’d load it with the real deal if they were a serious threat. For mountain lions and bears something much larger is necessary, a 30-30 can do the trick, anything less will just piss them off. Though we’ve used a loud fog horn to scare off bears with great success and no need to fire a weapon at all.
Before you use any weapon, you should know how to handle it safely, have the weapon registered, and make sure you are licensed to own it. Check local and state laws and regulations to make sure you are in compliance.
The main point here is “compliance” with the law. You really don’t want to violate regulations and get yourself into trouble. In many cases, if you caught it or trapped it for being a nuisance animal you get to keep it.
That’s good news for your family’s freezer. If the meat is inedible, you might be permitted to sell the pelt, bones, claws, or teeth (not in CA), which can be good for your pocketbook.
We always mourn the loss of one of Nature’s beautiful creatures. It is a sadness that we hope we do not have to encounter often. Still, if it has to be them or my livestock, I’m going to choose them.
We try to place our livestock in areas that would discourage predation and protect them against predators as much as possible in the first place. This decreases the chances that any predator will find itself in my crosshairs and go back to eating what it is meant to eat in the wild.
Have you ever had to shoot or trap a predator or nuisance animal? What was your experience?