Ginger, our homestead dog, died back at the beginning of August, so there hasn't been a large, resident carnivore for a couple of months. This lack of predator scent has encouraged several unusual visitors, including a young badger (maybe I'll get some pictures), and a coyote.
When we moved here, back in 1985, we never saw or heard coyotes. The ranchers did not welcome them, and their favorite prey, the California ground squirrel, was pretty well suppressed under a heavy poisoning program. The county eventually quit poisoning the squirrels, the favorite, and most effective, poison was outlawed, and a lot of land was placed in the conservation reserve program, which idled it for a ten-year period. As a result, the ground squirrel population recovered. Rapidly.
As the ground squirrel population boomed, so did that of the predators. All kinds of predators. Red-tail hawks (buzzards, to you Europeans), bobcats, and coyotes. The past few years we've been hearing their choruses at night several times a week, and they have become much bolder than in the past.
The ranchers, too, have developed a more ambivalent attitude toward them. On the one hand, coyotes are bad because they can take calves, sheep, and small pets; on the other hand, they eat ground squirrels, which can wreck crops, undermine roads, and are generally a complete nuisance. So the ranchers quit shooting coyotes, and now they can be seen in broad daylight. Even in the yard.
While it's nice to have something helping to keep down the squirrel population, I now have to worry about protecting my remaining chickens. Somebody has been prowling around and I've lost two in the last week. For now, the chickens are staying locked up in the henhouse instead of being given free run of their henyard in the afternoon.