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Encountering Wild Animals on Walks?

1609 Views 19 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  Keechak
I know some of our members live in areas where they more regularly encounter wild animals, but I'm an urban dweller. The most "wild" animal I usually encounter is a skunk, and they're not so much wild as really annoying. So maybe someone less urban can help me.

Where I live is surrounded by mountains, so the outer edges of the city do occasionally get bears and mountain lions, but I live well into the city and have never seen anything like that. Until last night.

Kabota and I were almost home from our after work walk when I looked over and saw a black cat crouched against a car about 20 feet away. It was pure black with yellow eyes and strange, enlongated ears. It really caught my attention and I was staring at it when I realized that in order for the cat's back to hit the top of the hubcap on the car, the cat would have to be at least Kabota's size, 45lbs.

There are no housecats that big. Here's what I saw:

My question is, any tips for this sort of thing? Kabota didn't notice the bobcat, but if he had, he would have gone for it. He's not afraid. And while he's protected from rabies, I'd be on the other end of the 5' leash and I'm not vaxxed for rabies. Plus, I doubt I could get a bobcat off of Kabota in time to save his life if the bobcat decided to attack him. I'm also not sure that my "hit it over the head with a breakstick" technique will work as well for a wild cat as for a domesticated dog.

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I have spent a ton of time in the woods my entire life. I have hunted with dogs, hike and walk around the woods with dogs, etc.

I have a couple dogs banged up by hogs. But we were hunting them. As far as just walking in the woods minding my own business, me and my dogs have encountered bears, gators, bobcats, panthers, coyotes, etc.

The only real precaution I take is to keep my dogs away from pond edges, swampy areas etc.

The only encounter that ended with a physical confrontation from a large animal was about a year ago. And that was a group of 5 coyotes. I had a thread on it here complete with photos of the bite Merlin took. I believed at the time, and still do, that it was a territorial issue not predatory. The group was a pair with yearling grown pups. Merlin was well ahead as we crossed an open area and was confronted by a coyote. Buc and myself were some distance behind. They stood nose to nose and someone went off (I think it was Merlin) next thing coyotes poured out of the bayhead. Buc raced into the mess and it was five on two for a few seconds until I got there and then it was five on three. Buc chased three back into the bayhead. Merlin had a hold of the male and worked him over. I kicked one so hard I fell and took a shot at it as I went down. I went into the woods after Buc. Got him out of there and called Merlin off the one he was on. It was in rough shape and was found dead the next day.

With predators it is a risk versus reward thing with both predation and territorial issues. Wild animals know dogs are predators. A lot of risk taking on a decent sized dog.

Coyotes- a 40-50 pound class dog that is well built is more than a match for most coyotes.

Cats- both bobcats and panthers, cougars, etc could do a lot of damage to a dog but there is also risk for the cats. They are built light framed for speed and agility. Taking on a dog is more risk than most would take.

Black bears - They can kill a dog but are slow and tire quickly. Dogs are usually too fast and agile. Too much work.

Grizzlies - no dog/grizzly experience other than they always seem to fun from bear dogs.
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Coyotes here in the east are mixed with wolf and are bigger than the western coyotes. They're more dangerous and I would not want to run into even two of those together. Two of them killed a woman in Nova Scotia a while back. While that was an unusual incident, they seem to be getting more and more bold in general. I live in a small city, and my co-workers have seen coyotes in the parking lot at work and wandering down residential streets.

I saw foxes mentioned earlier in the thread, and I'm not afraid of foxes at all. Biggest fox ever confirmed (killed) in the UK was only 31lbs, and in the US the biggest foxes are around 25 pounds. Most males fall in the 12-16lb range (they can look bigger due to their fluff and their height, but foxes are light-boned). They don't hunt in packs. They don't even tend to pick fights with cats, let alone dogs. I see foxes and cats chilling in yards together with some frequency here, and I've never seen a fight. I've had foxes wander up to me and my dogs (up to five feet away), or trot along a half-block behind us screaming at us to get out of their territory, but none have ever so much as snarled at my dogs, let alone rushed them aggressively. A good kick from a human would hurt a fox because they are so light-boned.

I am in Florida and our coyotes are BIG! MUCH MUCH larger than the coyotes I have seen out West. Coyotes basically bred out our native population of Red Wolves. Which is the main reason they have never tried to re establish them in Florida from the few captive populations.

I have shot some big ones. Sixty pound class....Most are smaller but 40 pound males are common. And I have a photo I doubt I would post here that I found on the side of the interstate that I swear would push 70 pounds. Another factor I think comes into play here is there is a LOT of food. We are over run with Deer. (Most people do not think of Florida as a big deer state. But we are COVERED up with them.) I read somewhere once that if you combined the whitetail populations of Florida, Texas, Georgia and South Carolina, they would double the whitetail populations in all other states they occur in. And our deer are small in many places. 60-70 pound does are average in some places. So it is not just the fawns that are on the menu.
And then there are the wild hogs. Coyotes cannot take adult hogs on a regular basis..... And I used to feel that Momma hogs were far to tough for coyotes to chance trying to take her pigs. But I have seen them do it. And breeding season is ALL year for wild hogs. They can have three litters a year. So the woods stay full of 25 pound coyote bbq sandwiches.

Then throw in the small critters, domestic stock, agricultural crops (that coyotes will eat) etc.

I still say a decent sized dog is more than a match..... And WAY more risk than coyotes want to chance.

But then I am speaking from a perspective of the types of dogs I own and like. As grandaddy always said, it is not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog..... I would probably be more cautious if I owned a large breed with a soft temperament.
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