Ghost predator is wiping out my flock. Help!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Jungleexplorer, Oct 16, 2012.

  1. Jungleexplorer

    Jungleexplorer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have lost 10 pullets this month and have no idea what is doing it. I have four deer cameras out covering every place I can think of the animal might come from. This animal has a very strange behavior. It only eats pullets that are under 5 months old. It will not touch a cockerel or a full grown hen or rooster. It also clips off the wings (and sometimes the heads) of most of the pullets it has taken and carries off the body to I don't know where. I went in to full lock down at night and set out traps for a week with live cockerels in cages as bait and nothing. Last night it killed two of my three Cubalaya pullets that were in my pullet cage (I almost cried this morning because I worked all years to get these). Evidently they were roosting close to the edge of the cage and the animal reached through from the outside and ate their heads off. Now the real mystery is that the water has been leaking to this cage and the area outside the cage close to where I found the bodies is muddy, but their is not a single track. I have been out until 2:00am with a gun and flashlight for the last week trying to catch a glimps of this animal. I don't know what to do.

    I do not know what is doing this. This thing is like a ghost. It can avoid cameras, traps, hunters and walk across mud without leaving a track. What could it be?
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2012
  2. Y N dottes

    Y N dottes Chillin' With My Peeps

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    sounds like a weasle/stoat if its targeting smaller birds....and if can reach through bars and remain unseen. If it is something like this, they can get in through holes and creveces that would seem impossible.
     
  3. zazouse

    zazouse Overrun With Chickens

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    Could an owl get to the cages you described?
     
  4. De Wet

    De Wet Chillin' With My Peeps

    it souns like Jason the cockrel x[​IMG]
     
  5. Jungleexplorer

    Jungleexplorer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    An owl is my guess. My cage is about 8' X 8' by 6' hi. An owl can get to it. Never had anything get to the pullets inside in five years. What ever it is did not go in the cage. It reached through and got a hold of the pullet and pulled the head through the fence. It apparently did this while holding on to the side of the cage because there are no foot prints on the ground. The only thing I can think of that might be able to do this is an owl. I am going to stay up all night tonight. Wish me luck.
     
  6. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Owl or fox.

    I had similar issue a couple of years ago and also slept outside to ID thief. My situation involved great horned owl that was very size selective working on small birds preferentially. Owl caught and dispatched juvenile chicken then flew for all it was worth into feild where it hit ground. Then owl dragged catch the rest of way across feild to get up into tree to eat. Distance was a good 400 feet. The parts being cropped off and left seems more fox like behavior but I have seen owls do the head removal thing.
     
  7. Jungleexplorer

    Jungleexplorer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Could be a fox I guess. We have a few of them around here on occasion. The thing that makes me think it is an owl is the lack of foot prints in the mud. There is a lot of mud where the attack took place an the animal (if it were a fox or a cat) would have to crawl around on the cage wall in order to not leave any foot prints.
     
  8. zazouse

    zazouse Overrun With Chickens

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    It is very possible that you have more than one critter working your place, foxes,coons and possiums all get along pretty darn good as my trial cam photos showed me even cats get along with all the critters i mentioned.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Jungleexplorer

    Jungleexplorer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nice photos! I have been running my trail cams 24/7 365 days a year and I have never caught a fox on camera. I have caught some blurrs that I think were foxes, but nothing for certain. We mostly have the little grey fox around here though. Only seen one red fox in Texas in my whole life and it was dead on the side of the road. Huge fox it was, as big as a coyote, and with a beautiful tail too. I mean a real trophy! It was in the winter and I knew it had been hit that night, so I picked it up. It was in perfect shape so I took it to a taxidermist to get it mounted. Long story short, the taxidermist claims he lost my fox, but I believe he either kept my fox for himself or sold it for a lot of money. The only animal I have ever wanted to get mounted and the guy stole it. Aarrg!

    Anyway, the animals around here are very sensitive. They see the IR lights on the trailcams start to light up and they take off like lightening. I even have to cover up the little indicator lights so they can't see them. I used to have a trailcam with a real flash that took full color pictures at night. It did really well and I liked it, but it chewed through 6 D cell batteries every two weeks. Just could not afford to keep it running.

    But getting back to my predator problem, I don't know how I could be a land animal. I had four cameras set up around my chicken pen and I never even got as much as a single of a field mouse. The only shots I got were of me checking the cameras. The only place I was not covering is the sky.
     
  10. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

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    If the head was pulled through the wire, it was probably a raccoon. If bodies of hens were carried off that means there are gaps in your pen big enough for almost anything to get in. You have to have a gap big enough for a hen to fit through or nothing could have carried her away.

    Unless your pens are not covered, then it could not be a flying predator, Even a flimsy cover over the top will keep birds of prey and crows out. If the pens are not covered, then again it could be almost anything that killed the chickens. Most predators, including foxes and coyotes, have no issues with getting up and over a 6 foot fence.
     

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