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Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by GoodEgg, May 1, 2009.

  1. GoodEgg

    GoodEgg Songster

    Feb 12, 2007
    NW Florida
    Hello all,

    I am wondering something. I just relocated to a new area (miss my geese, ducks, and chickens -- especially my little Silkie hen! -- I couldn't bring them with me) and I want to build a new coop here.

    There are bears in the area (grizzlies I think? So Cali mountains). Everyone is pretty careful to keep from attracting them to the town -- keeping garbage put up and all of that. What I wonder, first off, is if having chickens is likely to attract them?

    I guess I need to build a STRONG coop anyway, and probably use electric wires. I don't have a dog yet, and if I do get one, he probably won't be outside at night anyway.

    I was hoping for a few laying hens, and considering a coop of 25 or so meat birds once or twice a year just through slaughter age (organic chicken is about $8 a pound here!).

    There are also raccoons, skunks, coyotes, and pretty much everything else that can eat chickens around here I think. So I'm sure a strong, secure coop with hot wire is essential. I'm just wondering if bears will be attracted, since I don't think it's possible to make one strong enough to resist a really determined bear?

    Thanks all!
    GoodEgg (returns!)

  2. horsejody

    horsejody Squeaky Wheel

    Feb 11, 2008
    Waterloo, Nebraska
    Keep it clean, pick the food up at night, keep your trash secure. They may still find you, but the chances are reduced.
  3. ducks4you

    ducks4you Songster

    Jan 20, 2009
    East Central Illinois
    You KEEP that good dog INSIDE!! Hate to see a bear or an intruder kill your dog. He/She can alert you just as well from INSIDE the house. Keep your feet warm on a cool night, too.[​IMG]
  4. GoodEgg

    GoodEgg Songster

    Feb 12, 2007
    NW Florida
    Yep, thanks, y'all. [​IMG]

    Everyone warned me about the trash, etc ... I keep EVERYthing inside the house until I see the garbage truck coming. I'll remember that about the feed too, though -- hadn't thought of that (though my chickens generally always cleaned up the day's feed before nightfall anyway -- I will keep an eye out for that!)

    And I've always kept my dogs inside. If I get one (and I hope to) he'll be inside too. Love my dogs too much to see them try to take on a bear anyway. Especially the bears around here. We had the little black bears where I was from, and a barking dog would probably have set them running anyway. Not so sure about these bears out here ...

    Thanks again, y'all. [​IMG]

  5. jonusko

    jonusko In the Brooder

    Jul 11, 2008
    Garden Valley, CA
    The only grizzly bear in CA is on the state flag. All others have been killed. However, black bears can be a real problem. Check out these pictures from last year: http://www.lucky13ranch.us/beardamage.htm

    I have rebuilt the coop door with 4x4s and so far the bears have not got in. I also added a couple of battery operated motion alarms to help scare them off and wake me up.

    There seems to be three requirements to coop design to keep out predators:

    1) Doors/walls/fencing must be strong enough to prevent a bear from entering. Or, at least slow them down enough so that you have time to get to the coop and scare them off. This requires some kind of alarm. Bears can be stealthy and slowly pull the coop apart without waking you or your dogs. (Note, the dogs nor I heard that bear break down the coop door in the middle of the night.)

    2) If fencing is used, it must have small openings on the bottom 2 to 3 feet to prevent raccoons from grabbing chickens and pulling them apart piece by piece.

    3) Fencing should extend out at least a foot and buried a few inches underground on all sides to prevent predators from digging under. Raccoons and skunks don't seem too bright and always try digging right next to the fence. That is why I only go out a foot. But, the further you extend it, the safer you will be.
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    The electric wire should turn away a bear. You'll find it useful for most of the other critters too. Electricity can fail so you still need a good coop, but with bears, definitely electric wire.
  7. GoodEgg

    GoodEgg Songster

    Feb 12, 2007
    NW Florida
    Quote:Thanks for the info. I guess that was my assumption. People are sometimes (rarely I am sure, but I have heard of it) actually attacked by bears, and I guess I had thought maybe grizzlies.

    I'll definitely take y'all's advice and look into some electric wire. Guess I'm going to have to build a much stronger coop. My old coop was really pretty good ... I sealed it EVERYwhere so tightly that not a mouse or a tiny snake or mink could get in, but I didn't have to worry about large predators. Out here I guess it's a whole different story (and to be honest, I stopped closing up my old coop ... my chickens were TOTALLY free range along with the ducks and geese, and I never lost any except a flighty hen that probably flew away and one biddy. And a female duck that disappeared -- actually I thought she was hiding eggs but she never showed back up with babies. This was out of well over 100 birds and a couple years' time.

    I had more trouble with a hen that used to take her biddies to drink in the goose's water pool. She drowned 7 in one day ... but after that she never took them back and I never lost anymore.

    Thanks again. I'd love to get those chickens soon, but I guess it's going to have to wait until I can make some very secure quarters for them. I wonder if it'd be a good idea to put the coop in under the deck, for the sake of having them closer and more able to keep an eye on them .... going to have to think on that one some more. Don't want bears tearing the deck apart either.

    Thanks, y'all!

  8. ChickenDogDuck

    ChickenDogDuck Songster

    Apr 25, 2009
    Here's a little info from the Oregon Fish & Wildlife about Black Bears that might be similar to your California bears:

    Most Oregon black bears are black. About 10-20 percent of bears, depending on the region, may be some shade of brown. The brownish-colored black bears sometimes appear cinnamon-colored, resulting in some people mistaking them for grizzly bears.
    Black bears vary in size and weight, with males generally being larger than females. Adult males average 275 pounds while adult females may may average 175 pounds. Depending on the season, food supply and gender, adults may weigh anywhere from 125 to 450 pounds. Black bears measure about 3 feet high when on all four feet, or about 5 feet tall standing upright.

    Black bears are omnivorous in the true sense of the word. They will eat almost anything that lives, once lived or may yet live.
  9. wishin4chicken

    wishin4chicken Songster

    Jun 20, 2008
    Hayden Lake, Idaho
    All of the above advice is great. Black bears will also go after bird feeders. We had several hanging from the house and had one bear who would take it down, carry it across the deck, open and empty it without breaking it. Then he found the hummingbird feeders. He wasn't so kind to those.

    Needless to say, no feeders this year.
  10. Tala

    Tala Flock Mistress

    If you go in for electric, get the highest power fence energizer you can find. No puny dog size ones.

    I think Fi-Shock is a better brand than Zebra, and constant state is better than pulse style, but your results may vary.

    Someone on here said that they used an electric fence to ward off a momma and cubs who came back for a second meal.

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