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Rascally Raccoons

Early spring we began losing chickens. Some of them were gone without a trace. Others were found partially eaten. We knew we had a problem, we just weren’t sure what form that problem was taking.

As we have a well fenced run area I felt confident crossing coyotes off the list. They have never made it over the fence before, it is unlikely they learned how now.

That leaves a few possibilities. Ok, tons of possibilities. raccoons, badgers, skunks and weasels to name a few. Raptors were not on our list. We have witnessed great horned owl carnage before and this was nothing like that. There were no holes dug anywhere under the fence so that pretty much crossed badger off the list. I did not think it was a weasel. We had seen a stoat about the property before but it was really small and seemed to be happy killing the ground squirrels we have plenty of. I didn’t think fox because what I understood about foxes is that they’d kill everything just for the pleasure of it. This led me down a raccoon path that was pretty much solidified by a neighbor confirming they had a raccoon family nearby.

So we started baiting a life trap, closing the gate on the barn itself and we bought and placed a trail cam to catch the culprit. The first night we caught a cat. I had wondered if it might have been a cat but I wasn’t confident this cat was our killer. So, after debating it we let the cat go and put the trap out again. The next night we caught…..something. It ripped the door off the trap so we had no real idea what it might have been.

Then we bought the pigs. We were worried, they were small when we purchased them. Still, pigs are ferocious when needed. The killing stopped for a time. I was hoping it had moved on, or the presence of the pigs in the barn was enough to discourage it. It wasn’t to last. Soon we lost a turkey. Our security doubled down. We were trying all different kinds of bait in the trap but never caught anything else. The trail cam never captured any useful photos either.

We went on vacation and I worried we’d come back to nothing. Thankfully everyone was still alive when we returned. We did have some ducks build nests outside of the run though. I had some hog panels I zip tied in a circle around the hens. Everything was going ok. The hens were set to hatch their eggs any day. Then I went out to find a wing and no other trace of the hen. The eggs were also gone. I was devastated but had hopes for the other hen. She was well hidden, it took me weeks to find her myself.

Around this time the peahens also went to brood. I saw them each day as they flew over to eat. Then, one morning, no peahens. My heart dropped and I went in search of them. I found feathers, so many feathers, and eaten eggs. No peahen. She obviously gave her attackers a struggle. We were hoping she was injured and in hiding. We searched everywhere. We’ve never found her. The other duck was also killed the same night. Her body was strewn about in several locations, her eggs eaten. At this point I called game and fish. I didn’t think a raccoon could take a peahen. I’ve seen those girls attack our dogs and win.

Game and fish came out and confirmed it was a coon. They’ve told us to stake it out and shoot it. The chance of trapping it is so slim shooting is our only option. So we have the game cam out, baited, trying to figure out which days and times the coons come around. So far we haven’t caught any pictures of them. We did get an entertaining coyote chase though. You can see the rabbit racing away in one shot and the coyote chasing it in the other.

We are nearly out of chickens at this point. We have a single turkey left. We also only have one peacock left. The male peacock went missing during the night a week ago. The ducks seem ok. Other than the ones who were nesting no ducks have been harmed. I’m guessing it’s their alert state at night that has kept them safe thus far.

 

I’ve been told a line of electric wire at the top and bottom of the fence may be enough to keep them out. That is our next step.

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