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Predator ID problem? SKUNK? Update pg 2

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by tfpets, Sep 29, 2008.

  1. tfpets

    tfpets Mmm, tastes like chicken

    This is long, but I've had a problem this summer that has gotten steadily worse.
    I live in the Sierra Foothills of Northern California. I have been in the same area for 10 years and never had this problem, now I either have one or two separate predator problems that I need help with?

    My chickens live in several different styles of housing, the primary ones being covered chain link Kennels with roosts and shelters. I also have a wooden shed that has been converted to a chicken house, but is not large enough for all of the birds I have at this time.
    Over the course of the summer I have been losing one bird after another. No body, no sign. Just gone.

    The other night, at about 1:30 a.m., we heard a commotion in one of the kennels. DH and I went out to the pet area (Through the locked gates, it's like Fort Knox) and found P.J., my only Jersey Giant, on the ground. He was just laying there, kinda stunned, but okay.....I was worried about why he would have fallen off the perch?? So I carried him around and looked to see if anything was out of place in the rest of the pet area and everyone seemed fine. I put P.J. down in the corner, I didnt want him falling again, and we secured the gates and left. The coop doors were open that night, for the last time. I never saw P.J. again. Where does a 13 pound rooster in a gated yard disappear to?? I was thinking we had a Bobcat, to have gotten over the 4 foot locked gate and taken a 13 pound Jersey Giant without leaving a feather?
    Since then I've been going out in the evening and closing the doors to all of the coops/kennels.

    Then this morning I went to open up the doors of the coops to let the chickens out of their various housing, and I was horrified to find, in my Cuckoo Marans pen, my small light Brahma (not a Marans, but just a 12 week old that likes to hang out there) had had her head pulled through the chain link and torn off, her inner organs torn open and cleaned out. Whatever it was, it was small enough to fit between a building and the kennel (six inches) and dig under the edge of the kennel (the hole was about 3 inches deep and 6 inches wide)...it had to have been inside the kennel also, possibly more than one, because my last sizzle chick was laying there dead, but no marks on it that I could see??

    Perhaps rats or something? What small predator would do this?? What can I do to secure the kennels to keep the chickens safe? We have temporary lights set up that we can turn on until we get sensor lights, I want to find out about "deterrants" if anyone wants to recommend anything...Cameras, guard dogs, any suggestions are appreciated!

    I'll worry about the legal stuff later, and I want the problem gone, I want to take care of it myself (Why not, my neighbor didnt like any of my 5 cats leaving my property and trapped and killed each and every one of them - but I only used paintballs when his dog killed my ducks - now we're even?)
    Thank you for any of your help - I may just move out there til I know they're safe. We're going to relocate some of the more vulnerable ones til I know it's safer, if it ever gets that way.

    Last edited: Sep 30, 2008
  2. RoyalHillsLLC

    RoyalHillsLLC Songster

    Mar 5, 2007
    NW Louisiana-Vivian
    Sounds to me like you don't have a very secure pen (sorry). It could be a lot of different predators. a 6 inch hole is big enough for a lot of different things to get in. It could be raccoons, anything in the weasel family (sorry I don't know which species in your part of the world), any small mammalian predator.
  3. justusnak

    justusnak Flock Mistress

    Feb 28, 2007
    South Eastern Indiana
    First let me say, I am so sorry for your losses. As for the one with the missing head....I would have to say COON! Get a trap..and baite it with marshmallows. Just make sure you put them in something like an onion sack, and tie it to the back of the cage. This way when it pulls on the bag..>WHAM< the trap is set off. As for the larger one missing....and no feathers....I would have to say bobcat. Maybe tonight get a bag of flour, and sprinkle it around the perimeter of the coops and runs....this will help in identifying the track...and predators..and give you more of an idea what needs to be done next. Good luck, I hope you stop whatever is coming in for a free meal.
  4. tfpets

    tfpets Mmm, tastes like chicken

    Quote:The pen that PJ was taken from has wire panels on the bottom also. If we wire the bottoms of the others, do you think they would be considered more secure? They are completely covered, wind proof, have housing, nests, and roosts inside. The doors open to the range/yard during the day, close at night, Uhhhh, what used to be for their safety??
    We just never had to close the doors before now? There had never been a need?
  5. Cetawin

    Cetawin Chicken Beader

    Mar 20, 2008
    NW Kentucky
    Soory for your losses. I would reinforce my chicken areas for sure. If the runs are not covered, you will lose more I am afraid.

    As to the missing head...Coon.

    As to the Jersey Giant, there are several possible predators. if the gate is only four feet high you could have a bobcat, a cougar/mountain lion or a coyote.

    Time to set some traps. I like the idea of sprinkling flour around the enclosures. You will at least have prints to help identify the culprit.

    Good luck.
  6. tfpets

    tfpets Mmm, tastes like chicken

    Quote:FLOUR!! THANK YOU!!

    I want to identify the problem so badly! I faced off something in my yard twice this winter, it was on the other side of the wire fence, my Llama was frozen like a statue (she's smart) and it growled at me....I got so mad I took off running after it....DH worries about me, you know, thinks I'm gonna catch the thing? All I saw was big cat eyes glowing...The second time it was closer, stalking the pet area...I had two dogs with me, I was barefoot in the dirt, and I saw the silhouette of a large "cat" with half a tail..and it made me mad...so the smart dog ran back to the house, the stupid dog chased the big cat with me...again, it's not like I was gonna catch it?? The paw prints were pretty big, and we have seen a Bobcat about 1/2 mile from the house, with a cub.
    So I may be able to identify the Bobcat more definitely, and it seems easier to deal with and deter it?? Maybe??

    We have tons of Rats! Huge Trophy Rats! Some about the size of small rabbits, almost 4 pounds even! We call them Rodents of Unusual Sizes. I had one chase me around the garden last year, nasty thing. Maybe rats still. I've never heard of wild weasels here, but anything is possible.

    I have not seen a single raccoon in our area, what a stinky issue to start having! I HATE raccoons. I really do. We had them in town, and I HATE them. My oldest who is a total sweetie gives a cheer every time he sees one as roadkill (We had to listen/watch as a group took our cat up a tree and joy killed it)...

    I think what makes this year unusual is that we had a huge fire in this area, and it has brought alot of wildlife out of their natural habitat onto our property (they saved our house and land, but miles and miles around us were burned) and my chickens are the new wildlife buffet.

    Thank you for the flour idea, and I am going to TSC to look at the live animal traps after work!

  7. tfpets

    tfpets Mmm, tastes like chicken

    Quote:Thank you!

    All of the runs are covered, quite tightly, all the way around, top, all the sides, doors,etc... only the floors touch the ground, for now, on three of them. The last kennel was covered for the winter last night. They always have been, but we winterize the sides also. I am off to TSC this evening to look at traps - I dont know what to do with what I catch? Even though I HATE (have I mentioned that) Raccoons, I dont think I can kill one??
    Oh, I think I'll go get 50lbs of flour too. It wont hurt the chickens, will it?
  8. Zookeeper9000

    Zookeeper9000 Songster

    Mar 1, 2008
    Gladstone MI
    Quote:Thank you!

    All of the runs are covered, quite tightly, all the way around, top, all the sides, doors,etc... only the floors touch the ground, for now, on three of them. The last kennel was covered for the winter last night. They always have been, but we winterize the sides also. I am off to TSC this evening to look at traps - I dont know what to do with what I catch? Even though I HATE (have I mentioned that) Raccoons, I dont think I can kill one??
    Oh, I think I'll go get 50lbs of flour too. It wont hurt the chickens, will it?

    flour won't hurt your chickens and as far as not being able to kill it. Call someone else to do it. Or picture your chicks headless body and just pull the trigger. Heartless I know but hey there was no mercy for your chickens. And if you show mercy it will be back or if you relocate it (which I don't believe in doing) then you make it someone elses problem.

    I would say the fire brought them in but it is up to you to take them out. Follow your laws and if you don't then remember the 3 S's. Shoot, shovel and shut up and shut up means don't post about it on the internet either.

    You hubby isn't worried about you catching that cat he is worried about it turning on you and attacking you. Which is a very good possiablity, yes that could happen. So be smart like the smart dog, if you got a gun then chase away.

    Good luck hope I didn't come across as mean it wasn't meant to be mean. Just my opinion and I sure don't mind if yours is different.
  9. tfpets

    tfpets Mmm, tastes like chicken

    Quote:No, not mean, you sound hauntingly like my husband. And we have a 22 rifle. I'll keep it ready. And 3 S's it is. We tried relocating the "stupid" dog once...she came back. Gone for a month, she made it 12 miles, and it took her a month, but she came back.

    I appreciate the input, we dont have to have the same opinion as everyone else, it would make us all boring?

  10. tfpets

    tfpets Mmm, tastes like chicken

    Brought home 2 traps tonight, and I'll use the flour I have, forgot to get more at the store??? Town is 14 miles, so it waits til tomorrow. DH has the tractor out clearing even more brush from out in the pet area, he's convinced this thing is hiding there in wait when we go out there, inside our locked area. He's digging a trench to run permanent power to my chicken houses, I'm just running a cord out there for now for emergency lighting (I just used a cord for my brooder this spring, but I'm happy to have permanent power that far out!)
    I'm going to try to secure the floors for tonight with what I have for now. Hard plastic fencing is all I can find for tonight......I'll use your ideas for the trap bait...

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