By Connor Lynch
HARTINGTON — Drive past Erwin Babcook’s Hartington-area dairy farm, north of Kingston, and something unusual might catch your eye. Like dead coyotes dangling by their tails from a 20th century windmill a stone’s throw from the road.
The farmer regularly displays the fruits of the winter’s coyote hunt, often to the delight of children in a passing school bus and chagrin of local police and game wardens, he said.
This year, there were nine coyotes on display from his windmill, not 20 feet from Holleford Road, the farmer told Farmers Forum. It’s his way of pushing back against city folk who feel they can tell farmers what they should and shouldn’t be doing on their farms, he said.
“This is in the country. We have coyotes,” Babcook said.
There’s been plenty of feedback, both positive and negative. He’s had visits from the game warden and local police, asking many questions or following up on complaints but leaving with the windmill display intact. “Some people are great with it. Others are city slickers and should’ve stayed in town.”
This year, his 10th annual coyote hunt, was a good one. About 37 coyotes were taken down, which Babcook thinks is a record for him and his hunting neighbours.
“With these coyotes, you have to control them yourselves,” he said. Left unchecked, the animals attack his beef herd, biting off tails and switches and panicking calves. Panicked calves getting chased at night have a tendency to run through fences, he said. “Then the next morning the cattle are out. You’ve got to get them back in, fix the fence. It’s not fun.”