So, what's killing them?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Sweetened, Oct 29, 2012.

  1. Sweetened

    Sweetened Songster

    Sep 14, 2010
    Saskatchewan, Canada
    Recently, I had what I thought would have been a skunk attack on the property. I arrived home a couple Friday's ago to an absolute mess in the house. Our Mastiff cross had broken out of his kennel while we were at work (which he's only done once in the 3 years I've known him). He tore apart the garbage, strewn it all about -- we were just lucky he didn't spend the day marking the house. Angry, I stormed outside to go check on my birds who I had left free ranging (as usual).

    That's when I saw it: Patch of blood stained grass, explosion of maybe 1/16th the total feathers of a bird. Walk 5 feet and another, and another. Then just tufts of feathers that didn't belong. No bones, no wings, nothing. Gone. All of the birds were in the coop, as high as they could possibly get, including the birds that normally roost on the ground. The area just wreaked of skunk, both inside and outside the coop. We have a guardian dog on the property that we've had for about 2.5 months now, and when I walked back to the house, I found her gingerly grabbing a wing attached to the innards of one of the birds. I lost it. Yelled at yer and screamed, grabbed the remains from her mouth. Never even had to touch her and she rolled onto her back and started whining and yelping as though I had beaten her. She had -no- blood on her and she's a white pyr, so I'd see it ( I think anyway ).

    What I SUSPECT happened is she had never encountered a skunk before and was going nuts. The dog in the house heard this and tried to get out to be with her and help. If there was anything left to the birds, I wouldn't be surprised if she consumed them and I wouldn't blame her for doing so. I had a pup prior to her that the birds were just terrified of. She had gotten ahold of a bird and tore it's back end to shreds and they learned to avoid her from the moment she was out of the house. They immediately got up high and stayed there until she was back in the house. They aren't that way with the Pyr. They walk right by her, peck the groudn around her feet, walk under her and don't even think twice. This is STILL the case.

    However, while packing up some birds for the auction yesterday morning, one of them got away from me and I couldn't catch her. I arrived home to find an explosion of her feathers, a patch of blood and, well nothing else. Immediately I thought I had to have been wrong, it must have been the dog. The dog had a streak of blood on one paw and that was it. I'm not convinced it was her, but I can't be sure.

    Don't dogs leave parts behind, like feathers, wings, feet and some of the entrails?

    It's my understanding that:
    Skunks rip off heads, consume whole carcasses (feathers and all) and do so until they are full;
    Racoons rip heads and bodies apart, often leaving parts or all of the parts of the birds behind;
    Coyotes grab and go, like a KFC drive thru;
    Weasles kill, de-feather and eat;
    and dogs spree kill, usually consuming one or 2 while leaving most feathers, wings and feet behind.

    Any opinion?
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2012
  2. dracoe19

    dracoe19 Songster

    May 31, 2011
    Warrenton, Virgina
    From my view point it sounds like a roaccoon or skunk is killing the birds and the dog is either thinking "It's already dead so I can eat it" or she investigated the dead animal. I have had a few birds that have been killed by my dog and there would be blood, feathers and other stuff on their face and chest. Mine usually present the dead bird to me proudly but I can always tell who did it even if they tried to hide it. There would be some kind of evidence on the dogs face and chest in my opinion. Also if the dog did it I would guarantee the chickens would be scared of her. Mine know that my Samoyed will kill them if they jump the fence and run if he comes toward the fence and they are near. They are more okay with my great dane because she doesn't try to kill them so they aren't as alert when she comes over. I would get a live trap maybe and bait it. I bet you'll catch the pest. I have had experiences with raccooons leaving exactly what you described; some feathers, a bloody patch and nothing else. The guard dog may not attack the raccoon/ skunk because they are similar sizes/ form to a cat? If you do set a trap and catch something see how she reacts to seeing it. Hope you figure out what's killing your chickens.
  3. Sweetened

    Sweetened Songster

    Sep 14, 2010
    Saskatchewan, Canada
    Hi Dracoe19;

    Thanks for your response. The hubby was also 100% certain it wasn't the Pyr. I had the same thought about the looking-like-a-cat point you made. She chased the wild cats here on the first day and got yelled at. When she chases something I don't want them to, I shout as loud as I can "No that's MINE" and rarely have to chase her down. She submits right away and usually doesn't do it again. So, as you said, she's been taught not to chase or go after cats, so she's probably fighting an internal battle the entire time. We have seen skunks around before, as well as a single raccoon months ago (where there's one, I'm sure there's more).

    Hubby set traps and we've caught cat after cat after cat. I would say it's the wild cats, but they've been around those cats since we got them over a year ago without issue, and our wild cats are fed daily. Again though, cats kill differently. I've had one of my indoor/outdoor cats eat a chickadee and leave ALL the feathers for me to find in the house.

    I also heard if a Pyr has been guarding another herd/flock on another property, when they get to a new property they sniff out what's around. Any smell that's there, they relate to belonging there. I'm not sure how true that is, but it would help the matter -- the original house is on this property (ie 1 room, circa 1800s house) and smells terribly of skunk, and has since I moved here.

    Thanks again.

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