Predator accidents and how to recognize them
Here in Finland we have four main predators, bear, wolf, wolverine and lynch. They are part of Finnish nature and food chain. Predators keep herbivores population suitable size. Predators habitat has shrunken when human population has expanded more and there are more predators now than there was before, that makes our domesticated animals vulnerable for predator accidents. Sheep are small animals, so all of those four predators can attack them. Most of accidents are made by bear and wolf.
How you can recognize predator accident?
Most important thing is daily checks in your sheep herd. In Finland we have animal protection regulation where is entry which says you need to check your animals at least once a day. You need also be sure that they are safe, and conditions are suitable for your animals. Daily check helps you to know if there is something weird happening in your herd. We live in the land of thousands of lakes, so we have many islands where sheep are grazing. Some of those are hard to go, but it´s still important to check daily that the herd is fine.
Healthy sheep is curious, and it will observe surroundings. It stands straight by its feet, head up and back straight. Healthy sheep has clear look in its eyes and it´s watchful. Sheep eats, drinks and ruminate normally. Sheep won´t have many ways to protect themselves when predator attacks. Sheep has only two methods, play dead our runaway. First, they try to run away, but if it’s not going to work, they play dead. They play dead so long that the thread has gone away.
If you notice that your herd is panicking, try to look is there predators somewhere. Also, if you see injured sheep, you should look your herd properly.
We have here a mode of action when there has happened accident in domestic animal herd, first things are call to the rural business authority, so they can come to take notes of the accident, then you should look is there damaged animals and call to vet. Vet will make sure your animals are treated well. You should monitor your herd few days after accident, because there might be some injuries which aren´t found by the vet. If there are many dead sheep, you should let them be like they were when you find them, so they can be check by the rural business authority. After you get a permission you can take them away. It´s very important not to mess up the scene, because if it was predator attack there are many traces which helps the rural business authority to conclude what has happened. In Finland you can have compensation if rural business authority decides it was a predator accident. The amunt of compensation has official level where each animal has its own worth, https://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/ajantasa/2009/20090105#L3P8 .
Sheep these are:
Breeding cilium 183€
Butcher ciliar 183€
Milking spawn 312,50€
Breeding goat 375€
Butcher sheep >1 v 139€
Buther lambs <1 v 153€
Breeding lambs <1 v 363€
Breeding ewes>1 v 431€
Breeding rams >1 v 556€
How you can protect your herd?
There are many ways which you can protect your heard against of predators. Most effective is predator fences. In Finland there is local hunter´s association where you can apply predator fence supplies. If your application gets approved, you will get fence supplies for free. You commit to make the fence and maintain it for next 5 years. After that it´s yours. The predator fences are 1,4-1,6 meter high and it can be electrified. With electricity it is very effective and keeps predators away.
Sheep farms can also make night shelters. These are places where you take sheep every night and, in the morning, you let them out of there. Night shelters can be made of fences, barns, or something else where your herd can fit properly, and which is save enough that predators won´t get through or in it.
Herd guardian dog can be used to protect sheep herd. Properly trained and used dog is very effective way to protect the herd. You need to know these dogs well and train them properly, so they won´t do anything stupid. Dogs will live with sheep all the time, so they know what is normal and which is not.
Nowadays you can buy the trail camera, which can monitor pasture. These are useful when you suspect there might be predator near your herd. It can also help if there happens predator accident, there can be pictures which predator it was, but it´s not going to prevent any accidents.
There is also sound, light and smell repellents. They work well for short-range, but animals are going to get used to them so they aren´t permanent solutions.