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Any tips on dealing with minks?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Alexandra33, Jul 8, 2019.

  1. Alexandra33

    Alexandra33 Chook Snuggler

    Here in a few months, we're going to be moving to a heavily wooded property complete with water sources. It's my understanding that this is prime mink territory, and considering our flock will be free-ranged, these pests could be a huge problem. Does anyone have extensive experience with them? Just how dire is the threat? How does one go about trapping?

    ~Alex
     
    NewBoots likes this.
  2. flyin-lowe

    flyin-lowe Songster

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    What will the night time set up be? I have lost hens to them but it is always at night when they found a way into the coop. Last time a skunk dug through the HC I have on the bottom of the coop to the ground and got in. The mink then went in through that hole. Once I secured the perimeter better I have not had any more losses.
     
  3. Biddybot

    Biddybot Chirping

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    Shut your gang up in a secure coop every evening without fail to keep them safe at night. If you've got a hole anywhere that a rat can get through, a mink will get through. If a mouse can get in, so can a weasel. Proofing an attached run so neither mink nor weasels can get in CAN be done and then you might be able to get away with not shutting the birds inside every night, but remember that you'll have to mink-proof the tops of any runs too. Mink can climb very well and fences won't stop them, which is why they're such a major pain as predators go.

    Mink will attack during the day too. I've lost a few birds this way over the years and about all you can do if you want to free range your flock is to accept that it may happen and stay alert for their ground predator warnings--they'll let you know if there's a mink around. Alas, by the time the flock realizes that they're in danger, a bird may well already have been attacked and killed. This can actually be a good thing as long as you already have a live trap on hand for exactly this sort of emergency. Mink are bold and hate to give up their prey. They'll try to tug their victim off into hiding to feed on it during a daytime raid and may even scream at you when you approach to chase them off. Chase 'em off even so, but take note of where they go...it likely won't be far. Then tie your poor, freshly killed chicken into your live trap as fast as possible (a large-sized trap suitable for raccoons gives you more room for the 'bait' and has always worked for me) and set the trap close to where you last saw the mink and go off and try to get your remaining chickens into their run and/or their coop for safety's sake. The odds are good that you'll barely get started before you hear the satisfying 'snap' of your trap slamming shut and your problem will be over and your murdered chicken will be avenged. For now...

    The last time I had a daytime attack like this, the mink launched its attack from under a woodpile and I caught it trying to drag the little hen it killed back under the same woodpile. It was so angry when I interrupted and took its prey away that it screamed at me several times and stayed put while I was baiting my trap and then placed it right next to the pile and covered it with a piece of plywood to provide cover. I turned, walked about twenty feet, and--snap! Fastest catch I've ever had. That was one angry mink! They can get into such a frenzy when killing things sometimes--it's why their getting into a coop can have such disastrous results--but it can also work to your advantage and my experience is that they are always VERY easy to live-trap if they're still frenzied and determined to retrieve any kill which they consider theirs.

    So...a secure coop, nightly lock-ups, and having a live-trap always on hand and ready to go, that's the best advice I can offer to anyone moving into a mink-friendly environment on how to deal with these animals. And if you even THINK there's one hanging about at night and you want to do some proactive trapping, try baiting with fish or a freshly caught and killed mouse or some actual meat. I find that mink aren't quite as taken by stinky wet cat food as are raccoons, but they'll usually go for something recently alive.
     
  4. JDN

    JDN Songster

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  5. Having lost birds to a weasel, mink and fisher--in that order--I suggest baiting and trapping. If you ask around you may find someone who will be willing to trap them during trapping season. Thus far I've managed to keep them out of the coop by covering any possible interior openings with half-inch hardware cloth. As above, any opening large enough to allow a mouse or rat entry will allow a weasel or mink and they will actively use them day and night.
     
  6. JDN

    JDN Songster

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    What did you use for bait?
     
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  7. Dead chicken for the fisher. Mice and chicken parts for the weasel. The mink hasn't been caught using liver or chicken parts but I don't think he regularly comes around.

    One good thing BTW, the weasel took complete care of my rat problem.
     
  8. Alexandra33

    Alexandra33 Chook Snuggler

    I'm very appreciative of all the advice given here! :caf

    Our flock will be provided with a secure coop to take refuge in at night. :) Thankfully, there's a lovely, airy shed on the property which can easily be converted into shelter. Should hardware cloth be sufficient to keep minks out if installed properly?

    I know a couple individuals who've dealt with mink attacks during the day, which is what scares me most. The birds will be free-ranged daily to cut down on tick population. :hmm Sadly, I think a few deaths here and there are inevitable. Best I can do is try to be proactive about trapping (very thankful for the information concerning prime bait!).

    Former owner of our new property didn't mention anything about seeing minks. His only issues were with foxes and dogs allowed to roam. Hopefully things will work out for the most part.

    ~Alex
     
    NewBoots likes this.
  9. roosterhavoc

    roosterhavoc Crossing the Road

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    Foxes are worse. Worry about them more.
     
  10. Biddybot

    Biddybot Chirping

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    On the plus side, foxes will kill mink! (If they can.)

    My dogs and I ran into a parent fox carrying home some food for its pups once very early one morning down by the beach. The fox instantly dropped its prey and started running for its life, and fortunately my sight hound was lagging behind and didn't see him bolt off down the trail otherwise that fox would have been toast...no real cover available other than marsh meadow for a quarter of a mile. Anyway, what was interesting was that the fox had been carrying home a freshly-killed young mink about half adult-sized. Until then, I hadn't thought that they'd go after such prey. I think you'd need two foxes working in tandem to take down a full adult mink, though. They're tough animals.

    Good luck with your flock and hope the predators take it easy on you. I just finished pro-actively trapping yet ANOTHER raccoon family, a fat mom and four babies. They went over two fences to get into my back and front yards and I found signs that they'd been scouting out my chicken house and runs, garbage cart corral, and bird feeders. No damage had been done yet, but still... Once they start snooping around and know there's food to be had just out of reach, it's just a matter of time...
     
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