Here is my issue. I have about 5 acres on the coast of Northern Humboldt County, CA I desire to fence. I want a permaculture garden, grow crops (no, not the classic variety this county is known for), and have goats and other live stock. My problem is deer, small chicken killing varmints, bears and mountain lions. Deer and small varmint fencing has been covered in other forums and I have read them. Mountain lions are the biggest issue. They will eventually eat all live stock if not protected and they do this in broad daylight if they have to. If I have to get a guardian dog or two I will, but I also run a B&B on the property and don't want dogs barking all night or potentially endangering the clients.
We had a couple large herding dogs with a strong protective instinct when I was a kid in Colorado. Saw mountain lions all the time and lots of bears.
The problem was the bears would take on multiple dogs, disable one and deal with the other. The lions generally were not a problem, they had plentiful other prey and are averse to taking on a couple dogs. An injured mountain lion is a dead lion, injured bears can often recuperate- different food strategies. One thing that made the bears a real problem was beehives, like a dinner bell. Lost a couple dogs in the first three years, and a couple sheep. Got rid of the hives and the bears went elsewhere.
Others can comment on LGD barking, but you can't fence out those two species, just not gonna work without SuperMax security.
Probably going to have to just live with losses, California is not kind to farmers dealing with predators. Check out backyardherds for the horror stories...
Standing on the shoulders of giants. Giants with dirt under their nails
I believe an electric fence is the only kind that might work. Pain barriers are most effective with wild animals, they remember. I think it might work with bears. The problem with the mountain lions is they're smart, and they will learn to climb a tree and jump over the fence, which really defeats the purpose. It's possible a fence may work with bears and mountain lions casually meandering onto the property. If they're starving, all bets are off. I think the best solution is two or three dogs of the appropriate breed, and the 12ga with an assortment of 00 buckshot and slugs always loaded by the door. And maybe some night vision goggles next to said gun. I know running out the door in your skivvies with firearms in the middle of the night can be exciting and no one really wants to do that, but it may be the best defense. I don't know if these are protected species in california, if there are laws against shooting them in defense, or what the penalty is for getting caught. You may want to research the law.
"Study books and observe nature; if they do not agree, throw away the books." ~ William A. Albrecht
Thanks everyone. I will do some careful thinking and probably go with the dogs and hope my wife can keep from turning them into pets. Bears have been controlled with electric fences pretty well around here and the forest overflows with abundant food for them. Lions will have to be controlled with a gun if the dogs can't deter them. Its really odd. In town there are sheep and cows and goats in 50 acre fields that rarely get bothered, but any of us that live on the outskirts just a couple miles out get preyed upon. One method I have thought of is to have a compound where they all come into at night and are let out of during the day, but it takes so much more work each day especially if trying to rotate pastures.
We don't have bears or lions but we do have foxes, deer, rabbits, racoons, and the occasional coyote. We have a similar problem though because we own 10 acres in the middle of a neighborhood. Our dog will only bark when needed. He'll bark a few times when chasing something off but then stops pretty quickly.
Smartest dog I've ever seen. I taught mine how to chase off crows so they don't eat my berries. I just ran after them a couple times and he picked it right up. He's fearless, doesn't run off, barks only when needed. It's pretty much the perfect farm dog. They are not as big as many LGDs which could be better against the bigger predators but they'll chase off everything that doesn't want to fight. We leave ours outside in the growing season but bring him in through the winter. He's part working dog, part family dog and plays very well with the kids.
Tim, of course predators affect the out-lying properties: that's what they first encounter and as long as the food supply continues they don't need or want to venture into town. Also, most predators rely on stealth and, while they may be able to creep up on a feedlot full of prey, escaping inconspicuously with a kill is almost impossible. If your livestock are tempting predators but the B+B is located a ways away, maybe your guardian dogs won't be bothered by guests?
We have 27 acres in Yolo county on Cache Creek. We have wild pigs, deer raccoons and coyotes. We may have cougars too. Neighbors across the river do. We have an Akbash dog. I can't say enough good things about him. He keeps away the predators and he doesn't not bark at neighbors or
Delivery people. Can't say they are all like that but I think they are the best. My guy doesn't have a flock to guard but he patrols our property and keeps
The big critters away.
To the OP Tim, do you currently have any of these animals, and if so, what problems are you having?
Or, are you now thinking of keeping animals, and for now are anticipating what problems you may have?
For 5 acres, the least expensive, fast, easy and effective fence you can have is an electric fence. A really hot electric fence. These are psychological barriers, not physical ones. Wild animals encounter physical barriers all the time and easily get past them like they are not even there. They don't understand the source of the pain coming from an electric fence, but do understand the pain itself and quickly learn to avoid it. That applies to just about all of them.......all varmints large and small.
Normally electric fences are thought of as a tool to keep livestock in. Properly constructed, they become a perimeter zone of protection that stops movement of animals in or out.
We'll be moving to an area that has a known Mountain Lion population, in fact they've been seen on our property and at our neighbors. Our first step will be lion proof enclosures, fenced in chain link from top to bottom-- completely enclosed. I worked at a wild and exotic animal rescue and that's how we kept lions, tigers, mountain lions, leopards and jaguars IN. I have no doubt it will keep them OUT. There are instructions for building an inexpensive chain link enclosure using a carport frame at the mountain lion foundation website: http://mountainlion.org/portalprotectsecureenclosures.asp A friend of ours had the foundation help him with building a pen and after losing three pigs in one season, he's had no further losses in the two years since.
A well built chicken coop, a barn or a chain link enclosure are the first line of defense. Fencing, guard dogs, frightening devices (motion activated), removing attractants such as keeping deer away and not leaving any dog food out, are all part of a multi-pronged approach that can be very effective.