One chicken killed every day - picture of predator's footprints included. Help identifying?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by zando, Feb 3, 2013.

  1. zando

    zando Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 13, 2012
    DeWinton, Alberta
    Hi all,

    I found one of my hens dead in the run when it was super cold. I decided that she was sick and just did not make it. Was completely eaten by fellow hens, I did not think much of it, besides sadness of the fact.
    Next day - nice weather (around +5C) - chicks are out and about, I was cleaning the coop, took out the manure, put new bedding. Went shopping and when I came back - another hen was just killed and was laying in the snow. it was just done as the rest were still staying hidden in the coop. They can go in and out as they please durng the day, but are locked inside after dark.
    the killed one had her guts out, one side of the tummy was almost missing, the head and neck were intact, and by the time I went for the shovel and a bag - the rest of the birds were eating off her.
    As we have snow - looked around for tracks, aside of mine and the dog's (she can't get inside the coop anyways) - these are the only ones I found. the diistance between the tracks is about 8 in, and the tracks were coming fomr and going back to the bushes. Included are some pictures for all of you who can recognize anything. I have modified the pictures for better contrast as it was shortly after sundown.
    thanks for your help,
    A.[​IMG]


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  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Photographs in first two images look sort of raccoon like or even oppossum like. Third looks like something else. Daytime attack not typical of a oppossum since birds can get away in daylight pretty easy. A raccoon could be more effective.

    Statement that others promply consume remains is a major consideration. What are they being fed otherwise and how much. I can have some pretty grizzly murder scenes yet cannibalism does not typically occur from other birds.
     
  3. zando

    zando Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 13, 2012
    DeWinton, Alberta
    thanks for the reply.
    Fencing is good - did not find any bigger holes that would let racoon in.
    the hens are fed mix of corn / barley / wheat + oyster shells. they have enough food laying around - feeder is never empty when I go to refill.

    my fence posts are round wood - typical fence posts. can predators climb up and down those posts? my run is open at the top - fence is only around, but not on top...
    Hm..
     
  4. Mumsy

    Mumsy Chillin' With My Peeps

    I can show you pictures of tracks from an old book I've had as a kid.

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    Last one is a Long Tailed Weasel.

    I would also look for images online of raccoon, possum, Fox, Coyote, and Lynx tracks. It's important when tracking to measure the foot print. Weasel and Mink leave a pretty small print.
    When a body is hungry, day or night makes no matter. They will go for the easy meal.


    Chickens are opportunistic feeders. Mine will eat raw meat from the processing table. Not uncommon at all.
     
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Yes, most can climb although oppossums tend to be slow to do so for food. Raccoon, gray fox or even red fox will climb or clamber up a fence post easily. Body being left behind not consistent with fox or coyote but fox may eat part in spot if bird to heavy to carry back over fence. Are you certain predator is leaving pen even with you present? I have had raccons sleep very close to where they pillaged and wound up locking them in with critters I wanted to protect.
     
  6. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    OP you need to show something to give us a sense of scale.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2013
  7. Mumsy

    Mumsy Chillin' With My Peeps

    A weasel can maneuver through a one inch hole. They will kill, eat, and leave because they can't get the carcass back through the hole they came in through.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2013
  8. Hennyville

    Hennyville New Egg

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    Feb 3, 2013
    South Dakota
    Probably a Bobcat
     
  9. zando

    zando Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 13, 2012
    DeWinton, Alberta
    Sorry guys - forgot to mention the size of the footprints. the footprint itself is about an inch, and the spacing between them is about 8 inches.

    I will have to let them stay in for the next few days until the hungry beast finds another eatery. would they move (the predators) if the food is not accessible any more? I would ...
     
  10. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Odds are you are in the predators home range so it will not just move on. It likely has a core route taking it from sleeping location to water and a couple honeyholes for getting eats and an exgtended more variable route for finding other stuff and marking turf. If it gets something once in a location, it will likely return periodically in hopes of a repeat and it will not forget your location although if it cannot get another meal soon it will adopt another route at least temporarily.

    Spacing consistent with raccoon / domestic cat sized animal.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2013

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