some unknown killer


5 Years
Oct 4, 2014
Something is killing my chickens, dragging them into the woods, but not eating them! Whatever it is, it has taken two both times, during broad daylight. It happened quick too. Left home for less than hour. Immediately searched, first time only found one, second time found both, literally in opposite directions well into the woods. We are surrounded on three sides by woods. No dogs come on our property, as we have a golden retriever. She was inside both times. Am I interrupting it each time before it dines? What is it?
Could be one of two scumbags...either raccoon or fox. Raccoons tend to do their damage at night, but fox? Fox are brazen...and they do tend to kill during daylight hours. Usually a fox will drag it's prey off to the den to feed their kits, but raccoons kill for the thrill of it. So very sorry for your losses...
If your dog was inside, she’s not preventing anything from coming on your property. It doesn’t work that way. Even when a dog is outside, they can’t cover every area of your property at the same time, especially if they are laying on the front porch instead of patrolling. Dogs can be a huge help, but not when they are locked inside and unable to do their job and they are not infallible even when outside.

Have you looked on the body for marks, puncture marks from hawk claws, scratches from a bobcat, something like that? Those can often be a big clue. Also, could you see any prints? If the animal were feeding you can often see poop, which can be very distinctive, but if it didn’t feed you’re not likely to see any. You did not say there were no visible injuries, just that they were not eaten. Any clues from injuries could be a huge help in identifying it.

Not all predators read the book and do what they are supposed to, but tendencies are about all you have to go by without hard physical evidence. Many animals will take the body away but a dog is the only thing I’m aware of that kills for fun and carries the body away without feeding. Since it took two at the same time, took them to different areas not a nest, and did not feed on either one dog tops my list. Since there were two carcasses ion different areas it is unlikely that you or anything else interrupted them before they fed though that is a possibility.

Were they partially buried? A bobcat will carry them off and bury them to save them for later, though they usually feed some and just hide the remainder. They usually only take one at a time too. If it was a bobcat there should be claw marks on the carcass. Bobcat possible but not likely unless debris was raked over the body.

I’ve only seen a fox take one at a time but many people report multiple losses. They normally carry it off to a protected spot to feed or maybe back to its den to feed its kits but often leave some feathers behind. I’d put a fox fairly high on my list. A coyote is also a possibility. Any of the canines. One possibility is a parent teaching an offspring to hunt? That might explain two at a time.

I’d put hawks, eagles, or owls way down on my list unless the heads or neck were severely damaged. They usually do serious damage to the heads when they kill. You should find puncture marks from their talons if one of these is guilty.

That’s my major list of suspects since it was two at a time and they were carried off a ways. As I said not all predators follow the book so there are other possibilities but I just can’t see it. Maybe someone else will have an idea. Or maybe you are somewhere with more exotic predators like badgers or wolverines. I’m not sure how these normally act.
They had puncture wounds in their back. Few missing feathers, that I followed to the one carcass. In Germantown,NY, leaves covering the wooded areas, so hard to see tracks or scat.
Details suggest a fox, likely a juvenile. If the birds are relatively large the fox had a hard time killing them and ran when you or dog came close. Are you certain you have not lost more than 4 birds?

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