mystery visitor

Hoping someone will be able to offer some suggestions...
We've recently relocated fom the burbs to a country home with wonderful established gardens outside of Eugene, OR. The rear yard borders on a couple of acres of woods & blackberries and is deer fenced, so our local heard doesn't intrude. Front yard is fruit trees and pasture with a lawn & landscaping near the house.
Have recently noticed several well defined 2-3 foot wide circular depressions - as though an animal had been sleeping - appearing in tall garden foliage in the backyard, right next to the back deck. No indication that the beastie is eating anything in the area, no nesting materials evident, no tracks, burrows, droppings or access to area under house/deck. Plants involved have been borage & native geranuims. We've never seen anything inhabiting the depressions - either during the day or at night by flashlight.
I'd guess a stray cat, but our 2 Siamese sleep on the adjacent deck (in their own little house) & are very territorial when it comes to other house cats. The cats came with the house & are used to living peacefully with the local wild animals (skunks, opossums, racoons, squirrels, moles, & a wide variety of birds including wild turkeys). Our immediate neighbor reported hearing a very unusual ear jarring howling the other night, but had no idea what it was...we're not prone to coyotes, but do get reports of the odd cougar or bobcat. Did notice a lone limping deer a couple of weeks ago, but the deer have been strangely absent of late. I do have veggie beds in the same area, filled with radishes, lettuces, tomatoes, & broccoli which are untouched, so I don't think its bunnies. Would appreciate input - whatever this critter is, it's pretty hard on the garden & we'd sure like to know what we're dealing with.
Nancy
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Possibly a fox. They like to lay up for part of the night and let the rodents come to them. I've observed Red Foxes here in Virginia make 'daybeds' in my drifts of forget-me-nots and other comfy groundcovers that affords them some camouflage as they await their next hot meal.
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David J. Bockman, Fairfax, VA (USDA Hardiness Zone 7)
email: snipped-for-privacy@beyondgardening.com
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David Bockman wrote:

Hadn't thought of a fox, but it's a good possibility especially since the depressed areas are very close to a couple of fresh vole/mole tunnel openings. If a fox wants to dine on those little devils, it's more than ok by me. As long as he doesn't mess with the cats or become a vegetarian, a fox would be welcome guest. Thanks for the help :) Nancy
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foxes will eat cats, but they'd have to be pretty hungry... try encouraging one of your neighbors to keep free range chickens. that'll keep your cats safe ;) lee
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We had a large population of feral cats which has been substantially thinned by the foxes. Now the only feral cats I see are major beefy boys who look like they can hold their own.... last week I was awakened by caterwauling and a weird yelping sound; I investigated and found a feral cat cornered up against the side of my house being repeatedly charged by a fox. The fox would leisurely step close, the cat would strike, and the fox would yelp and jump back. I think probably over time the cat would become exhausted and the fox could move in and finish the cat off, however I broke up the fight and each went off like lightning in different directions.
--
David J. Bockman, Fairfax, VA (USDA Hardiness Zone 7)
email: snipped-for-privacy@beyondgardening.com
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David Bockman wrote:

Could be that was the bizarre howling noise my neighbor heard the other night. Will have to keep an extra eye on the cats - they're good old boys & delightful company when I'm working in the garden. Would bring 'em in at night, but they developed some nasty habits with their previous owners - no use trying to retrain a neutered 12 year old Siamese who feels obligated to mark everything in sight.
Nancy
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