Please help: geese killed daily!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by thecityman, Jan 25, 2014.

  1. thecityman

    thecityman Out Of The Brooder

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    HI folks! I am desperately in need of your help. I've had geese for 3 years and never lost a single one......and now in the span of 5 days I have lost 3 birds (every other day) and its killing me!!!! I might not be able to do anything anyway, but my first step has GOT to be to figure out what in the world is killing them!!! That's where I need your help. Here are the details.

    First, they are Toulouse geese, and all were VERY LARGE adults. Its very hard to imagine anything but a coyote or dog being big enough to take one down, but then I have no idea about preditors.

    My geese are semi-free range. What I mean is that they are inside my goat pasture, which is about 2 acres and is completely surrounded by a 5 foot tall goat fence (the fence with 3x 3 squares) and the top strand is bobwire. I am pretty sure this isn't a barrier for most predators, but I thought I'd mention it so you'd have all the details of the crime to help me solve it I would think coyotes might have a harder time getting in than anything, but I don't know. I've never lost a goat to a coyote. I have seen coyotes on rare occasions on land near me, but not my place.

    Perhaps the biggest clue would be the state of the dead bodies. One was in almost perfect condition except the head and neck was completely gone. The second one was almost the same....head and neck gone, but on this one something had pulled a small about of meat off the back of the bird. Strange place (I thought) to go for meat since there is very little on the back and it left the breasts and legs in tact. The third one had its head and neck gone, but also had a about half of its breast meat torn on AND a small amount of intestines were pulled out and laying beside it (I'm sorry to be so graphic but I don't know which detail will help you all to help me so I'm being thorough. and most of you have probably cleaned bird anyway).

    My geese are all fairly wild....they won't let me walk right up to them, nor my goats. Also, they can all fly quite well when startled, and all were killed near a fence but had open area to run/fly. I can't understand how something could sneak up on 3 of them in 5 days! They are literally bigger than a raccoon or opossum, though I don't know if that rules those out. I hear owls near my property though I've never seen any. I most definitely have hawks, but the only hawks I've ever seen are red tail, and once again, they would be smaller than my geese, I think.

    Unfortunately, I cannot tell you if they were killed at night or in the day. I'm sure that would be a good clue to help you but I just don't know. I didn't find any of them until about 2-3 pm, but that was the first time I was out there on those days. sorry. Strangely, I also have a few ducks that stay right along side my geese, yet no ducks have been killed. I would certainly have expected the smaller ducks to be picked off first.

    BTW....the only think I can think of the is different the last few days from the past 3 years is that the goose pond is frozen over. HOWEVER, don't read a lot into that because my pond is VERY small (about 30 x 30 ft) so it probably didn't afford them much safety when it was thawed (then again, even being 10 feet off shore might have saved them?)


    Well, I don't know what else to tell you all. I would desperately appreciate any insight you may have into what could be hitting me so hard. If you need any more information to help solve the mystery, just ask. thanks.
    Kevin
     
  2. Dwkuska

    Dwkuska Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Graham Wa
    Wow thats a tough one. Where abouts do you live? I only ask because your location might give us a better idea of what predators are possible. IMO only the head and neck gone makes me think a loose/feral dog. Coyotes in my experience dont leave much behind as they are pretty efficient about eating prey. Definately not a raptor as they usually grab the body... hmm
     
  3. thecityman

    thecityman Out Of The Brooder

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    Good point....it might help if you knew my location, which is in middle Tennessee. I think a dog is fairly unlikely because they were killed inside my fenced in area. I've never seen a dog get into the fenced in area, but it certainly could be possible. There are some gaps between bottom of fence and ground, and while they are very small, I guess a dog could wedge thru it....but it just seems unlikely. I doubted coyotes for same reason but people tell me that they can jump a 5 foot fence (its really about 4 foot 9 inches). You say definitely not a raptor, but I was just reading through the long thread here on hawks and I was starting to think it is one???? I see more hawks than anything, and some people on that thread said if a bird is too big they will just eat it where they kill it??? I though all the hawks near me were red tail but after reading that thread I now think they could be red tail and cooper's. ANYWAY....thanks for trying to help!
     
  4. denasfarm

    denasfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had a horrible time with Bald Eagles this past spring and again in fall. They were taking a bird a day for days before I figured it out. They made a huge mess defeathering and decorating the tree with carcasses. However they did not take my geese. Just full grown chickens and very heavy meat birds at that.. I lost 11 birds to two eagles in less than a week. They finally migrated away. We also lost several to a bobcat family. The neighbors lost a lot of birds to them but he took care of that issue.

    Now the people we got our geese from loose a lot of full size geese to coyotes. But they usually grab, shake and take the whole birds away. Do you have Bobcats? Cougars?

    So Sorry for your loss. Can you put up a deer camera?
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2014
  5. Dwkuska

    Dwkuska Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Graham Wa
    Yeah I thought wild cats but both predators and wildcats usually eat more then just the head and neck. I have also heard of eagles taking chickens but a full grown goose.. thats an awful daring raptor.

    Yeah if you have or could borrow a hunters trail cam... might catch the culprit. Just wierd to me that they focus on the neck up. Normally most predators eat the body. Keep us updated if you figure it out.
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Owl.
     
  7. zazouse

    zazouse Overrun With Chickens

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  8. thecityman

    thecityman Out Of The Brooder

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    I love these answers! And I very much appreciate them. AS I said, while they all 3 had head and neck missing, the second one had some meat torn off the upper back, and the third one had a lot of meat and even some organs pulled out and eaten. But like some of you, the large size of the geese is what really blows my mind....and trust me, they ARE big geese!
    THe camera idea is a great one, but all 3 of these geese have been killed and left in completely different areas of a 2.5 acre field, so it seems unlikely that I'd be able to set the camera in the exact area of the next kill.

    I'm very much inclined to buy into the owl theory. I actually had an owl nest built in one of my barns last year, and I have a neighbor who actually brags and thinks its cool because he has a couple owls that seem to live in his giant pecan tree for the last few years. SO they are certainly around. I assume an owl would strike only at night??? I'm at least checking my geese first thing every morning so I'll know next time if it was killed overnight or not.

    Thanks again for taking the time to try and help. This morning my ducks and geese are all gone, which has me worried but may not mean anything....occasionally they will fly to nearby fields to feed but that's pretty rare. I'm sure nothing killed all 5 of my remaining birds in one night (with no feathers left) but I worry something has scared them away. OH well. I'll keep you posted. Meanwhile I hope others will add their opinions here. THanks.

    kevin
     
  9. cgmccary

    cgmccary Chillin' With My Peeps

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    YES, this could only be a Great Horned Owl (GHO) -- is the culprit! A coyote takes off the goose and eats all of it except some feathers. Protect your geese from it! They can dive and in one swoop take off the head and they do this to full grown geese.
     
  10. cgmccary

    cgmccary Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is actually the time of year that GHO have their nests and eggs. They incubate in January so likely a nesting pair. I have a pair close to me. I hear them at night and just before dusk. I am lucky they have not yet bothered my Toulouse geese.

    The GHO is a top predator. There is an old thread on here of someone's Great Pyrenees taking on a GHO -- about a half hour fight, the large dog eventually prevailed of course but was all cut up on its face. GHOs eat full grown opossums and one of the few animals that will kill and eat skunks!
     

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