Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Canis latran Strikes Again

We still have three lambs, thank goodness, but when brushing my teeth before chores this morning, I heard tons of splashing in the pond, and the geese were honking like crazy. They do this just about every day, but today seemed a little louder. I walk over to the open window and started screaming "NOOO!" when I saw a brown coyote just starting to make its escape with a goose as big as itself. I dropped my toothbrush and ran downstairs. My mom was screaming too, I ran on the back deck, to see him disappearing into the woods. So I changed direction and ran out the front door after slipping on my shoes. I ran behind the pond. I didn't see any feathers, so then I ran to the creek to see rings of water that were fading. I ran along the creek, and then I finally saw a couple of feathers on the other side. I ran to the local beaver dam and crossed it. I had lost the trail of feathers and then I saw a feather caught on a thorn bush at the bottom of a hill. I ran up the hill and at the bottom I saw a big tan lump. I ran down the hill to see that it was indeed the goose. I picked it up (it was dead) to see a large puncture wound on its back.

I brought it back to the house, and my mom asked if I wanted to do a necropsy on it to figure out how it died. Something that I've never done before so it should be fun. (If you are easily disgusted, perhaps you shouldn't read on.)

I plucked the area around the wound. There was one large wound about an inch in diameter, and around five other small puncture wounds from its other teeth. There were many little purple bruises. Two long scrapes on each side of the goose's back says that the coyote had trouble getting a grip on it. Since there was one large wound that no longer had feathers around it, the coyote probably stopped to eat it. Then when it heard me coming, it didn't think it was worth it to bring the goose with it, so it left it behind and ran.

I first started cutting from the wound out. There wasn't much bleeding yet, however the spinal cord had quite a few cracks in it. Still, it wouldn't have died from that. I kept cutting wider around the other wounds, but I still didn't find anything obvious that would kill a goose. I gently pulled the skin from the body down toward the ribs to see if anything was up with the ribs. Then my hand slipped right into the goose's body, and I had found the trigger to the goose's death. My fingers were sitting in a puddle of warm blood. I felt around a little bit. My fingers brushed against something sharp and then there was some kind of extremely punctured and bloody organ. I felt toward the sharp thing again and realized that it was a broken rib. In fact, it was many broken ribs. About five or six ribs had collapsed and punctured its lung very severely. Several other ribs were just snapped off at the base, but they hadn't collapsed into the wound.

So the coyote takes a good grab at the goose's back and takes one big chomp. It snaps more than half of its ribs puncturing the lung, causing it to suffocate. It takes off straight for the creek and crosses it. It runs along the creek and then takes a turn for the hills running through a few rose bushes. It gets to the other side of the hill and sets down the dead goose. It's well away from the pond, so it starts to rip apart the meat until it hears a two-legger coming. Already well exhausted from running as fast as it can with a ten pound goose, it decides it's not worth it and runs for its own life.

In high school, kids dissect frogs and worms to find out how they're built. I dissected a goose to figure out a whole crime scene. Wow, I love the country.


debra said...

I lost 11 hens in one week to foxes this past spring--in broad daylight.
Piles of feathers. How life works.
Thanks for sharing this leg of your journey.

ivy said...

Sometimes I imaging how I would fare as a farmer? Or a farmer's wife? It is a romantic thought, but hardly possible for me. For one thing, I would cry every time some predators ate my critters or if I had to feed my family with one of our own.

Anonymous said...

I just read on your Mother's blog about all of the coyote's attacks that are giong on and that you are outside at night again, watching over your livestock. It is just horrible that this is happening to you again. I truely admire your bravery at doing this.

I suggest that you keep a journal and post it. I am sure that night time on a farm is a lot different than night time everywhere else. What do you hear? Other than the coyotes, do you hear anything else? What do you see? Do you have lightning bugs? Can you see the stars? What are the things that you feel when you hear noises, or see a shadow, or the stars, or the moon? I think it would be very interesting reading.

Anonymous said...

I agree about keeping a journal. You might notice a pattern to their attacks that you didn't notice, such as they might be attacking mostly when the moon is full or that maybe the crickets stop chirping when when the coyotes are around.

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