Bozeman, Montana is a quickly growing community. Everything here is expanding as people move from across the world to enjoy the towering mountains, open sky and beautiful community. As a result of Bozeman’s growth, predators are being forced into smaller and smaller spaces. The coyote population is increasing around our farm as there are less places for the coyotes to go.
Guard llama above, guard dog below
James and Sarah Budd have been on their current property for the last 15 years. During which they’ve seen mountain lions, bears, coyotes, foxes and wolves all wander their land. They’ve put great effort into ensuring that the Alpacas of Montana farm is predator friendly, meaning they never harm, trap or intentionally kill any predators around the area. In order to maintain a true predator friendly environment, the predators around the area are welcome to come and go near the farm, so long as they never enter a pasture with an alpaca in it. This is monitored by the llamas and the anatolian shepherds.
Three Alpacas of Montana Guard Dogs
Despite the prevalence of predators, James and Sarah have never lost an animal to any attacks due to their employment of guard animals (llamas and anatolian shepherds). Just because they have guard animals doesn’t mean there won’t be the occasional rogue predator-- a young male cat who got kicked out of the den, or maybe a coyote who has pups and needs to feed them.
Recently, there was an attack on the farm. Both to several sheep at the neighboring property and to one of the Alpacas of Montana alpacas.
The property next to Alpacas of Montana has homed 10 sheep over the last several years. When their neighbor first moved in, he bought 6 sheep, but no guard animals. James ventured over to do the neighborly thing and told him that he had to have some sort of protective animal due to the amount of predators in the surrounding area. The neighbor figured he would be fine and wagered his bets. About a month and a half after that, he heard a commotion coming from the sheep outside. He looked out his window to find a mountain lion picking up a 200 pound Katahdin (meat) sheep. The cat jumped over a 6 foot fence with no problem, carrying its meal away.
After what seemed like something that only happens in cartoons unfolded right before his eyes, he hopped online and immediately bought a guard dog, later known as Victor. The neighbor didn’t think Victor did much, since there were never any scares after Victor’s arrival, but about 6 months after he died, a coyote came and jumped the fence. Two sheep died.
Victor shown above as an adult and below as a puppy.
After the two sheep got killed, James and Sarah brought the remaining ones over to the Alpacas of Montana property for protection. This is when things got weird. A coyote jumped the fence, even though Finn, Chile and Hazel were all on duty and attacked an alpaca. There’s a condensed environment for the coyotes to live in, which forces them to have to hunt in places they normally wouldn’t because there are corridors where they’d normally roam. James has seen a lot of coyotes walking along their fence line keeping pace with the Alpacas of Montana guard dogs; however there’s always been a mutual respect formed between the animals. The guard dogs mark their territory and make it known that no one is supposed to cross certain lines. The coyotes in the area usually note the line and know that they can’t cross it.
The dogs saved the alpaca. She suffered a rather grotesque injury where her skin was pulled back from her flank, but James was able to suture her up and she’s doing well now. When animals, like coyotes, are desperate to feed their kids, they’ll cross lines they normally wouldn’t cross. James and Sarah think this is what happened and why the coyote crossed a boundary it had never crossed before. Finn, Chile and Hazel may not have been able to prevent the rogue coyote from jumping the fence, but they were able to ensure that no lives were lost and minimal casualties were caused. James and Sarah believe in keeping the predators in the ecosystem, because they keep things balanced and in check. They keep the rodent levels low and deserve to be here just as much as anything else. We’re grateful for our guard dogs and the sheep will be returning to their own pastures shortly (once there is a new guard animal on duty).
Alpacas of Montana guard llama and Anatolian Shepherd