Can Anyone Help Identify Our Elusive Daytime Predator??

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by andromeda57, Nov 17, 2014.

  1. andromeda57

    andromeda57 Hatching

    Nov 17, 2014
    Hi folks...need some help figuring out just what varmint is snatching up our chickens. We've had our mini-farm (surrounded by a wooded area) for around 4 months now, and just started losing chickens around 2 weeks ago when the weather started to get cold. They were in a free-range situation, but we are now keeping them to their coops and runs more frequently and only letting them forage when we are present. The first hen that was lost we found under the shed; she was decapitated and (sorry for being graphic) disemboweled with her innards partially eaten. We removed the body, and a few days later two of our 12 week old hens went missing--no trace. A few days after that, our large Orpington rooster went missing--no trace (and 4 of us were on the farm mere yards away using power tools when this must have happened). Just today, one of our Brahma hens also went missing--no trace or evidence. No feathers, blood, or any evidence, and they all went missing in broad daylight. We have set traps in the woods and are in the process of setting cage traps near the shed, barn and coops. We are also putting up fencing so they can't get so close to the woods. In the meantime, I am sick and sad because we've lost so many chickens so quickly with so little evidence to go on. Does any of this sound familiar to anyone or does anyone know what predator is likely to be causing this? We are in Western PA, so it could be a number of animals: we have possums, raccoons, skunks, foxes and coyotes as well as birds of prey like hawks and owls.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2014
  2. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Probably one or more of the 4 legged variety. Raccoon on the one under the shed, fox and/or coyote can carry them off with very little evidence left behind. Very hard to trap fox or coyote.....only way for sure is to keep them confined in a secure run. Electric poultry netting can be very effective for them to range inside of with cover against the hawks.
  3. gawildlife

    gawildlife Chirping

    Nov 3, 2014
    Hampton, GA
    Grinner, aka opossum, on the disemboweled one. Larger four legged one the others to carry them off.
    Check your trap laws before you set traps. Many states allow property owners free rein to trap stock killers, like Missouri or my own home state Alabama, some do not, like Commiefornia, most are somewhere in between. North Carolina for instance allows free setting of traps to protect stock under a depredation permit BUT only after incurring a monetary loss which only can be determined by an agent of the dnr who issues the permit. My current state is more lenient in allowing the property owner determine his/her own cause for setting traps but does require a license to set a trap. Our DNR even offers a free license just for this situation.

    A word of caution. Unless you are a skilled and experienced trapper it is generally not advised to attempt to trap wild canines as not only does the equipment used, foothold and snare traps, require special knowledge and skill but can also do great harm if misused. Also inexperienced trappers often do more harm than good by educating varmints more in the ways of avoiding capture than not.

    My advice is to very carefully select a professional to trap canines or seek out your state trappers association to obtain the training needed to trap canines. I would say the same for beaver, bobcats and any species trapped with anything other than cages or rat traps.

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