Livestock Killed Southeast of Berryville

Living in an agrarian environment we are keenly aware of the dangers and hardship that come with this lifestyle.   We also benefit from being surrounded by the wonders of nature.

Coyotes are one of the many hardships it seems.

(Click to enlarge map)

Recently the conversation around the Sunday School table started out like this.  “The dogs held a coyote at bay that was trying to get a new born calf last night.”

The conversation continued, from another member, “Well, I hear llamas are good guard animals, they are nocturnal, and do not like coyotes, and will stomp them.”

My head is spinning with all this wealth of information.   I have so wanted to hear a coyote story and now I have one right here, within a mile of my house.

A fresh sighting. Coyotes here on my mountain! It gets better.

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Where I stop for my morning coffee, I causally threw out that we had had a coyote visitor near my place.   The response was, ‘Yep, they’re here’ —- Matter of factly confirmed by a local hunter, just like that!

The legendary Eastern Coyote here in our Clarke County. One knowledgeable gentleman who I often see in the mornings at the corner coffee spot in Purcellville, Jeff Brown, was kind enough to share photos he had taken around Upperville using his night vision camera.

Here’s the Wikipedia entry for the coyote (it’s worth the read):

“The coyote (pronounced /kaɪˈoÊŠtiː/ or /ˈkaɪ.oÊŠt/[2]) (Canis latrans), also known as the American jackal or the prairie wolf, is a species of canine found throughout North and Central America. There are currently 19 recognized subspecies, with 16 in Canada, Mexico and the United States, and 3 in Central America. Unlike its cousin the Gray Wolf, which is Eurasian in origin, evolutionary theory suggests the coyote evolved in North America during the Pleistocene epoch 1.81 million years ago alongside the Dire Wolf. Unlike the wolf, the coyote’s range has expanded in the wake of human civilization, and coyotes readily reproduce in metropolitan areas.”

Sounds like coyotes have been here for a long time. We’re the new neighbor it seems.

Then there was an email that Clarke Daily News received from Anne Watkins of Briggs Road yesterday. Ms. Watkins owns Kittery Point Farm near the Shenandoah River southeast of Berryville.

“This past Saturday night or early Sunday morning (March 12 or 13th) either dog’s or coyote’s got into the pasture with my few sheep and heavily pregnant goats and murdered three goats and all three sheep.” Mrs. Watkins wrote. “Two goats were also found mortally wounded and later died.  Four of the goats were heavily pregnant. I will now have no babies this spring.”

Mrs. Watkins said that all of her animals sustained bite marks to the legs and throats. No barking or other noise were heard on the night of the attacks.

“This is a warning to all Clarke County residents” shared a saddened Mrs. Watkins. “Devastating and very distressful to me especially since several of these animals were bottle raised and my pets.”

Sad: There will be no goat kids frolicking in her pastures this Spring.   Sad.  Several of the animals were pets, bottle fed from birth.   It appeared her animals had been chased through the fields and killed but not devoured.

Typical MO (modus operandi) for coyotes, three of her goats survived.

A few of Mrs. Watkins's goats survived the attack - Photo Janice Coon

A Warning:   Take care. Spring is here. The wild things are now awake after the winter chill. They are hungry and searching for food.

The Lesson:   We treasure living in a rural county, with rolling hills, flowing rivers, lots of trees, open fields, and, fresh air to breath. We, the humans, and our domesticated animals are only a part of the Big Picture.

Our Quest:   To find a balance that we can live with.

To error on the side of caution, I have informed my cat that it might be best if he stays inside for awhile — at least till the spring feeding frenzy passes.

Hmmm… if only we could convince the coyotes that stinkbugs are a good source of protein.

Kittery Point Farm goat shed - Photo Janice Coon

Kittery Point Farm pasture - Photo Janice Coon


  1. Sounds like a great time to add a guardian type animal into the barnyard, you can use anything from dogs bred specifically for that task to a donkey or a lama. Many of are farmer friends have started adding these critters into their pastures as coyotes and wild dogs have become more of a problem.

  2. Great Pyr’s, Maremmas, Anatolians are great Livestock Guardian breeds. They live with your livestock and protect from predators. These breeds are still being bred for this work and I know many farms that use them successfully in high predator areas.

  3. Although I haven’t seen any coyotes this year yet, I saw one in my back yard last spring, two days in a row. Saw my first coyote here about 15 years ago. And I saw one in Purcellville about 12 years ago, so they’re definitely long time Clarke County residents. Interestingly, I think I live about 3 miles from the area of the recent livestock attacks.

  4. We live in a beach town here in Florida and have lots of Coyotes living around us too! Seems they like to attack our cats and dogs.. they’re not afraid to grab the dogs while the owner has it on a leash and out for a walk!! So please protect your animals the best you can and NEVER let your cats out, no matter what time of the year it is…coyotes DO attack when the opportunity is there!
    Oh by the way, Coyotes have been seen roaming our golf course in broad daylight too..

  5. BTW – The article did say “either dogs or coyotes”. Loose running dogs can be a bigger problem than coyotes. Please don’t let your dogs run loose. You may not think your cute little pup would kill or harrass livestock, but if given the chance, most dogs will. It is their instinct and a farmer has every right to shoot your precious pup if it is killing or harassing his livestock. And the blood would be on your hands as the irresponsible owner.

    CDN Editor: There has been no definitive determination of the type of animal responsible for killing Mrs. Watkins’s livestock.

  6. The Chupacabra strikes again!

  7. CDN says: there has been NO definitive determination of the TYPE of animal responsible for killing Mrs. Watkins’s livestock

    Now, RW, I keep tryin’ to tell you to keep out of them there woods 🙂

  8. Coyotes were so common in So. CA that it doesn’t shock me. Seeing foxes blows my mind. It’s amazing to see them in the wild, not stuffed & in a museum.