‘Coyotes’ sighted at U’s Ag Experiment Station

By Sarah CR Clark

In the fall of 2021 two unidentifiable creatures suddenly appeared in the fields of the University of Minnesota’s Agricultural Experiment Station.

Reminiscent of “The Princess Bride” film’s infamous Rodents Of Unusual Size, the specimens can be found in the fields northeast of Cleveland and Larpenteur avenues in Falcon Heights.

According to Andy Scobbie, U farm manager for the research field plots, the creepy looking creatures are actually coyote decoys, posed mid-pounce.

The decoys are used to keep flocks of Canada geese away from the winter grains planted in that field plot. Winter grains are sewn in the fall, the same season when hundreds of hungry, migrating geese gather in the U of M’s St. Paul campus fields.

Scobbie noted, “The pouncing coyotes work OK for a while.” He speculated their efficacy could be maximized if they were moved around the field more frequently.

The field plots the decoys guard are full of winter barley, “a winter hardy crop we’re trying to develop in Minnesota,” Scobbie said.

While explaining winter barley and coyote decoys to this Park Bugle writer, Scobbie was gracious and thorough.

“Neighbors of the farm are so important to us,” he said, adding that they regularly provide information or observations of the fields. “It’s a really special relationship.” 

Sarah CR Clark lives in St. Anthony Park and is a regular freelance contributor to the Bugle.

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