Predator Identification

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by bowen012, Aug 8, 2013.

  1. bowen012

    bowen012 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just got back from vacation only to find out my small flock is gone. In-laws were in charge of securing the coop but obviously didn't do much of a job. Here's how it played out. All of the chickens were around 16-18 weeks old.

    Day 1 - Rooster gets taken some time during the night. He had been ill and wasn't going into the coop by himself at night. He went to bed under the ramp to the coop and was overlooked and locked out. A small pile of feathers were found about 15 feet from the coop.

    Day 2 - All chickens secured but a feed pan left out. Feed pan was found about 20 feet from the coop. Empty of the grower/finisher crumble that was left in it.

    Day 3 - Secured chickens and feed dish. Signs of pilfering (other items moved around outside the coop)

    Day 4 - Same as above.

    Day 5 - In-laws late getting home, around 8:30 - 8:45 pm. Not really night time but the day was dark all day from storms so it 'seemed' to get darker than usual earlier. They just shut the coop door assuming the 2 remaining hens were inside.

    Day 6 - Opened the coop to let the hens out - Nothing. Inspected inside of coop and found feathers of the 2 hens. Also, wings (not all of them) were left behind.


    I'm home and set out a live trap. Baited with sardines and some of the grower crumble since whatever it is seemed to eat that as well. Smell of skunk in the air, but I live rural so that's not uncommon. Raccoons are also obviously an option as I see them on the drive late at night. I've never noticed one on my property (but sure they have been). Also domestic cats around, but the chickens have free ranged around them before on numerous occasions. If I were to wager, it would be on something wild and not the cats (I don't want to kill an innocent cat, so giving them the benefit of the doubt).

    So, basically the scenario is: Something entered the coop around 9 pm. Killed 2 hens and left some of the wings and a pile of feathers. I'll inspect the coop further tomorrow; didn't have the energy to do it today (heck of a way to come back from vacation). A quick peek only revealed the wings, but something could be buried in the shavings I suppose. Both carcasses eaten except for the parts mentioned above.

    What is the likely culprit?
     
  2. Mrs Rebecca

    Mrs Rebecca Out Of The Brooder

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    I am so sorry for your loss. I am new to keeping chickens too. I have lost 3 to dogs. It is hard to lose them. I do believe that I have read that raccoons usually only eat the heads, not the entire bird. I could be wrong though because I have not yet experienced it. We do and lots of cats, and now that the birds are about as big or bigger than the cats, they don't seem to be a threat. I hope you can figure it out.
     
  3. bowen012

    bowen012 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 13, 2013
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    Predator 1, Trap 0

    Just went out to check it and bait was stolen. Trap was also moved (assuming it was drug in the direction the pest was trying to drag the food out). In light of this, I'm guessing Raccoon? I'll try baiting again tomorrow. Any suggestions for a more successful trapping experience?
     
  4. bowen012

    bowen012 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 13, 2013
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    Got to take a closer look today and found remains inside the coop. It looks like one of them was eaten inside the coop and the other carried off. Bones that are inside are picked very close to clean. A lot of feathers. I didn't see a head or legs. One wing at least; maybe another that just fell apart.
     
  5. bowen012

    bowen012 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 13, 2013
    North Carolina
    Raccoon in the trap. Dispatching him now. (S)He is huge.

    Method, in case it helps someone down the road. The first night I just put a can of sardines in the trap and they just reach through the bars and stole them. Tonight, I dug a hole just big enough for the sardine can and then placed the trap on top of the can so it had to go inside to try to get them out. I also put my hen's wing that was left behind inside the trap (some sort of justice and all). I placed some blocks around the cage to keep the coon from digging out the sardines (brick, rocks, cinderblocks would all work). Just went outside @ 2 a.m. and the coon was trapped - just a matter of disposal now.

    Sucks having to kill it but not living in the ideal world where it will just leave my property alone, what can you do? Will update over the next few days as I leave the trap out in case there is a family of them. Bittersweet and all - getting rid of the pest so I can restart a flock is great. Having to do it at the expense of a life, not so hot. Stupid raccoon. I'm glad it wasn't a skunk so I didn't have to try my stupid extermination plan without getting sprayed.
     
  6. bowen012

    bowen012 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 13, 2013
    North Carolina
    Today one of my hens showed up out of nowhere. Evidently hiding somewhere since the attack last Wednesday without food or water, or at least much of it. She's nervous obviously, but responded well to handling - they're pets and were handled daily so she's good. Give her a few helpings of mealworms to get some protein in her and access to as much food/water as she can take.

    Put her securely away in the coop with a full crop. Hoping she makes it. Like a friggin horror movie - hiding out for days with whatever predator returning to the coop daily. Her tail feathers were muddy and frayed; assuming she got somewhere just out of the raccoon's grasp and the coon kept grasping at her and getting tail feathers.

    I'd felt bad about trapping; but the circumstances of her return has renewed my dedication to clear as many acres of raccoon territory as possible (to the point of considering learning trapping/skinning as to not simply waste the predator resources).

    Hoping the trap catches something again tonight.
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Sorry for your losses, hard lessons. Glad you got one back, bet she'll be fine with a few days rest and nourishment......she needs a friend.
     

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