Saturday, January 3, 2009

Another Creature in the Barn

We have had some pretty bad days around here in the last few months. Something has been killing our chickens. In the blurry picture below is one of my Maran roosters. All three were killed.

A couple of the hens were killed too. All in all about 15 chickens dead. It seemed the young ones that roosted outside were being killed. Sometimes three at a time. We thought it was raccoons. We fortified our fence, electric top and bottom. Worked for a while. Then on Christmas day it was the last straw.

My beautiful Mama chicken and three of her babies were killed. She must have died trying to protect her babies. There was blood splattered all over the chicken house, up the wall and all over. And this happened on the side of the fence closest to the house. She was left in the small chicken house while her babies were dragged to the fence and partially eaten. She was laying on her side with her eyes closed and her neck all bitten up.
Here they are when they were chicks, so cute and fun to watch.

It was so strange. The creature would drag the chickens it had killed to the fence and just eat the head off and leave the body there. Really weird. If it was a raccoon, we couldn't understand how the fence was not shocking it. Plus there was a chicken killed before Thanksgiving that we had dropped by the back of the barn and forgotten about. The creature had drug it into the barn and pulled it behind the woodpile into a really small space. Was it a possum? We had found a possum in the barn before. We could not figure it out! A possum was not fast enough to catch a running chicken.

Finally we had gotten lucky. The other night when we came home there was a couple of inches of snow on the ground. There were tracks of whatever was killing our chickens everywhere. There was a path leading from the barn to a previously killed chicken. We had left it there hoping that the creature would eat it and not kill more chickens. It worked!

Look at the teeth marks it left.

Plus, look at the tracks.

You can almost see the sharp claws of the beast. It could have been easily mistaken for cat tracks but cats have retractable claws. You can definitely see claws in this picture. At first we thought it could have been a large tom cat since no other creatures are around here. We have seen the occasional fox but there is no way a fox could get under or over our fence. Look how it has a hopping gait. You would think it was a bunny but no bunnies have fangs like in the first picture. After much research we thought we knew what it was. There is one animal whose back feet land in front of it's front feet like in the picture. We have not heard of or nor have we seen any of sign these animals being around here at all. We know it's possible but rare.

Behind the barn were these tracks. It was going here to drink water then back to the barn.
This picture is from inside the fence. Look at how it slid right under.

It has to be something small, so small it can fit under the electric fence but powerful and fast enough to kill chickens. Any thoughts yet?

It practically had a highway back and forth to the fence, enjoying an evening of eating my chicken.

Very busy varmint.
So....Kevin got busy, now he had a clue and know what action to take.

He set up a couple box traps near it's trails (even though we had set them many times before and it had avoided them) and he also set up one trap that would not fail. He found a narrow opening that it had been traveling through and set the trap there, securing it well.

A special trap for animals that are vicious and wiley and like to kill my chickens. Kevin set the trap and fine tuned it, knowing that he wanted to get it on the first try.
It was a conibear trap.
To be continued......
ps.warning: don't google pictures of a connibear trap, I did and saw stuff that I wished I hadn't.
I'm an animal lover but I love my chickens more that whatever was eating them


sariah said...

That is TERRIBLE about your lovely chickens! I can't wait to hear what animal you caught- I'm guessing a skunk...

Kevin and Beth said...

Not telling...yet.