What killed my little flock? my dog or a coyote?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by schwehmybear, Dec 30, 2015.

  1. schwehmybear

    schwehmybear In the Brooder

    Apr 15, 2015
    I made an awful mistake yesterday. The coop has two doors, a front one where I can get the eggs, and a back one where I can change their pond water and put food in their container. I only had a drake and three layers.

    I left the back door open on accident =(

    I was gone for hours in the morning. When I got home, they were all gone. I have found spots in the yard where there are feathers- 3 here, 6 over there. I was almost certain it was our own dog, an Alaskan Malamute. He has bitten one before, but dropped it immediately, and then waited by the sliding back door till I got home.( I came home to him laying on his back being submissive.) I would have the dog with me while tending to the ducks, to show they were family. But I would never have left them alone again just to be safe.

    So, when all the ducks were gone, I thought for sure it was burton. But no bodies? "He must have buried them in the woods."- I thought. Its what he does with every bone he gets. I locked him in his kennel as punishment. even though I couldn't find a drop of blood on his white fur.

    This morning I got up, and heard the coyotes howling.

    Our dog chases them off all the time, but there is a family of them, I saw the pups at the beginning of summer!

    Could it have been the coyotes? Or was it our own dog?

  2. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life Premium Member

    So very sorry for your losses. Seems if your dog was outside and you say it chases off the coyotes all the time
    I would take a guess your dog wouldn't take much to kill a duck and not have alot of blood. if he got them around the neck say. But to kill 3 and not leave some tell tale sign just doesn't fit with it being him, but don't see how the coyotes could have done it if your dog was there. You may never know unless your dog goes out and digs one up. Or you take a walk out in the woods and find his burial grounds. Very sad day I' m sure.
    1 person likes this.
  3. schwehmybear

    schwehmybear In the Brooder

    Apr 15, 2015
    Thank you =( I feel like any flock we would have would be doomed now, whether our dog was the protector or the predator. I can't have any more, they were like my babies.

    I will go on a hunt for fresh dirt this afternoon, It was too dark yesterday (it gets dark at 4:00 here) And the ground is frozen today.

    They were the best animals I've ever had, always happy, would eat out of my hand, the would just poop, eat slugs, and lay eggs all day =(
  4. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life Premium Member

    [​IMG] Most of the time we learn hard lesson because of mistakes we make but that doesn't mean we give up. Just alot more work involved now to change things.

    Suppose it was Burton well that doesn't mean you never have any more ducks while you have him it just means you have to work hard at double checking all doors are closed and you work hard at training him to leave them alone.
    My Mini dachshund killed one of our ducklings one day because I didn't shut the gate when I went through it I was so heart broken and knew it was my fault since I knew they have a high prey drive for anything tiny. I am OCD about all gates being closed now and this was 3 yrs ago. haven't lost another duckling since. Thank goodness.

    Maybe in the spring when you go by TSC or a farm where you know they have ducks you'll stop and look and by then maybe you'll be ready to start over. [​IMG]
    Take so time to grieve and think, That is important.
  5. schwehmybear

    schwehmybear In the Brooder

    Apr 15, 2015
    I underwent the murder investigation, 5 feathers from one girl, 10 or more from another, and like a hundred from my drake. I can't find any feathers from my black Swedish, Dot, she could have gotten away-but I doubt it.

    I searched for about two hours in the woods for burial plots, I found two fresh piles of dirt and started digging- I didn't find anything. I also compared Burtons prints to the ones in the coop, because there were some large prints in the mud, they matched. I think its pretty clear he is a murderer. D=

    The only way I would have more babies is if I built a fence around their already large coop, so that even if I did leave the back door open, there would still be another barrier between them and the outside world.

    But I feel way too guilty, Malamutes have very high prey drives, but we raised him around our cat and he is fine- as well as had him around the ducklings and taught him to be calm. It was too dangerous though, you can't trust a dog when something is flapping around =(

  6. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life Premium Member

    You know that is so true the flapping brings out the high prey drive in some dogs. At least you know now. Putting a fence around the one you already have is a great idea. even burying it into the ground 1 foot will help if Burton was to dig. Or any other predator.
    I hate this for you but I hope if you do decide to start over that you'll come back and let us know.

    Do you think Dot could fly? there is always a chance. Any bodies of water close by? might just have a look.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2015
  7. cayugaducklady

    cayugaducklady Chirping

    Jul 20, 2015
    New England USA
    I'm sorry you're having to go through this.

    I'm going to suggest that perhaps the dog is innocent until proven guilty.

    Many moons ago when I still in school, my greyhound caught and killed many of my neighbors chickens.

    The neighbor would not manage his flock and keep them out of our fenced yard and farm lots. He turned them out in the morning and let them wander all over his acreage, cross the highways etc.

    My dog was inside our fenced yard. He would chase the chickens and catch them. Every single chicken he caught he plucked the rump feathers in mouthfuls and leave them in feather mounds in the yard. THe feathers looked liek they were plucked all at the same time ( no individual feathers). He plucked the feathers hoping the chickens would get back up and run around again. He lived for the chase.

    He didn't eat the dead birds. He left them lying where they were. He left the feather piles laying where they were. He never bit/chewed/gnawed on any of the carcasses. Once they stopped "playing" he didn't have any interest.

    My neighbor didn't fault my dog for killing his chickens. He knew he should have stopped them from leaving his property. He didn't care about properly containing them on his acreage. I paid him $25 for each one my dog killed because it was the right thing to do. I lost track of how many birds I paid my neighbor for.

    I haven't lost a duck to predation but I have seen the remains of aerial predation of songbirds in my yard last winter. There isn't a large pile (mouthful) of feathers in one spot. Predator birds leave behind several individually plucked feathers and blood droplets. Sometimes they leave behind bird carcasses that are missing body parts, internal organs or have grievous bloody wounds on them. (Sorry for the gross descriptions).

    If you found nothing at all except some feathers I would guess something caught them and took them back to a den a high perch. I also wouldn't rule out people stealing them.

    My current dogs would be all over the scene of the crime smelling the predator scents and tracking it in whichever direction they could follow. Presence of footprints do not necessarily mean your malamute is guilty.

    I don't doubt that ducks can trigger prey drive in dogs. My own dogs react in a dangerous way to certain normal ducky behaviors and i know I can never trust them to be alone with my ducks.

    I don't mean to bring up hurt feelings. It's hard losing any being that you care for. But I also want to preserve good feelings for your dog because he can't tell you what happened.

    Some things are just impossible to know without video recording or observing yourself. I'd hate for you to lose your ducks and also lose a loving relationship with your dog, too.

    I wouldn't give up on Dot. She may be hiding in a spot where she feels safe.

    Internet hugs and warm fuzzies for you, your flock and your malamute.
  8. HnkyDnkyZZFarm

    HnkyDnkyZZFarm Chirping

    Jan 2, 2016
    Northern California

    Keep heart. Loss is inevitable. Investment is valuable and worthwhile. You will duck again. The dog is a dog is a dog. Try not to beat yourself or the dog up about it. Our yard is enclosed separately from the pens and coops and the fences between require a little babysitting. Never do the dogs get taken into the coops or pens. It's like getting someone acclimated to the smell of mcdonalds. Even though you know you shouldn't, ya still salivate a bit and even sometimes give in no matter how many times you drive by without stopping. If you don't drive by, you lower your chances of infraction.

    On the plus side, the dog is obedient, doesn't misbehave when you are around and it may have been a case of the ducks going somewhere they aren't typically, and the association between duck in the pen and duck out of the pen in dog think, aren't the same duck. Ducks in the pen are "captured" and yours. The dog would no more take food off your plate without permission. You are why the dog is safe around ducks under some circumstances and you did a good job of communicating those circumstances and if we could predict accidents they wouldn't happen. Ducks outside the pen are "wild" and treated like prey. My dogs are like this about the cat. Cat in the lap is *my* cat, so they wont challenge my claim on the cat by behaving as if the cat is up for grabs by barking or lunging or showing interest in the cat. Cat on the ground on the other hand is anyones game and they go nuts. If I am holding her, they assume she has already been caught.

    It may have been a case of the dog investigating what appeared to be an egregious case of ducks breaking pack order and going awol in your absence, and instinct happened.
    1 person likes this.

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