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Kingston, Ont.-area farm using method that makes wild coyotes protect their livestock

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Kingston, Ont.-area farm using method that makes wild coyotes protect their livestock
WATCH: Topsy Farms on Amherst Island is using their own territorial method to 'trick' coyotes into protecting their animals – Mar 14, 2023

A farm on Amherst Island is using a different method to protect their sheep from predators.

Topsy Farms is using territorial coyotes to keep other coyotes away from their flock, and the strategy is producing great results.

“Our method looks at how would we defend a territory in the same way a coyote would defend a territory,” says Rachel Hawkshaw, site coordinator.

“Coyotes respond to scent marking, and coyotes respond to territorial occupation.”

How they’re marking their territory is with an electric fence.

But they’re also using more ‘natural’ materials — human urine and human hair.

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“We have a hairdresser that lives up the road, so we just had her collect her clients’ hair,” says Hawkshaw.

“What would’ve gone in the garbage, we just took it, and we applied different tufts around the perimeter.”

According to Lesley Sampson, the executive director of Coyote Watch Canada, this method has been used for decades by farmers and shepherds.

She says it’s a more humane way to protect livestock, rather than shooting coyotes.

“When there are transient coyotes that are passing through, those residents — that male and female that mate for life when left to thrive — they will be defending and doing the rounds of their landscape,” says Sampson.

Before Topsy Farms began using this method in 2020, they were losing between 50-100 sheep a year to coyotes.

“In the last two years, we have lost, I believe, only four in the last two years,” says Hawkshaw.

“So two per year.”

Topsy Farms doesn’t want to get ahead of themselves, but after decades of coyote problems, it seems that now, they might be able to turn the tables, and have the coyotes on their side.

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