Friday, June 22, 2007

I'm mad, I'm sad, I vow revenge!

We've lost quite a few chickens to a night-time maruader. Everyone that was taken was outside of a pen at night. Last night the mangler got crafty. We lost one of the guinea cocks, who was in the large enclosed pen and two lavender guinea keets and Lazarus in their own enclosed pen. The large pen is attached to the chicken house with the door open. No one in the chicken house was injured or killed. My guess is 3 geese guarding the door would make it hard for anyone to get in. While there is a spot on top of the large pen where an animal might get in, the little coop is completely enclosed with 2-inch woven fencing. I have no idea what got them. I'm extremely sad about Lazarus - she had survived so much. This morning I was so disgusted and discouraged, that I wanted to get rid of them all. I feel like I've let them down. I thought they were all safe in their pens. Raising animals is painful sometimes.

Here's what my conversation at Tractor Supply sounded like today:
Me: "Excuse me, could you help me get that live trap down off the top shelf?"
Harry, the sales clerk: "Sure. Do you have a critter problem?"
Me: "Yes. Something's been getting my chickens."
Here's where we go in to long discussion of fencing, what the kill looks like, where we live...
Harry: "It could be a skunk or coon. I've had the same problem. I set out a trap.
First night - nothing, second night - all the bait was gone, third night there was
a big racoon." And then he added, "It's better to find a coon than a skunk in a trap." (I'm not looking forward to either...)

I'll keep you posted on what, if anything, turns up in the trap. I don't particularly like the idea of a trap. I've lost a few chickens in the past to predators, (mostly neighbor dogs) and figure that's just what will happen from time to time. But now I'm at close to a 20 animal loss and I don't want to lose anymore. Tonight all feathered creatures will be locked in the chicken house and the traps will be set. The wild beasty must go!


  1. Oh Maggie...yuck.

    SO sorry about Lazarus and the others.

    Just fair warning; NC law says something about needing to destroy nuisance raccoons once they're caught. You might want to look for a river to toss the trap into for a while.

    Does that sound harsh of me? I can't imagine killing an animal any other way. At least you can clip a chain to the trap, dump it in, walk away and come back later to dispose of it.

    "Dead" traps, as I call them, are NO good at all. (Can you tell I had a raccoon problem earlier this year?) They don't even kill the animals in one fell swoop like a mousetrap does. I had a family living in the roof of my shed, so I got to go through the process three times! Started with the dead traps, because I thought they'd be more humane. They're not. It's disgusting how long it takes them to die.

  2. Thanks Stew.
    We thought we might shoot it - one quick pull of a trigger. But that means getting a gun... Although for some reason, Charlie has been keen on that recently (it might be all the bears and pitbulls running amok around here).

    I meant to call Buncombe Co. Animal Control today to ask if they pick up, or if I have to dispose of them, but got too busy and didn't.

    I don't believe in relocation - it tends to be a slow death by starvation and stress for a wild animal. You really have to know what you are doing to do it succesfully. And I've seen what kill traps can do - no thank you. I want to take care of the problem as humanely as possible.

    I think the drought is the reason we are seeing so much more of our wild neighbors this year. I'm sure my garden is next!

  3. Oh man, Maggie, this stinks... I understand your frustration, and feeling that you've failed your critters. I'm so sorry for all your losses.

    Don't be too worried if it's a skunk... we've caught 3 or 4, and they don't spray in the trap (apparently they need to be able to turn their hind end around & there's not enough room). We've drowned the skunks in the pond, but it's not quick.

    We do have a single shot .22 and have used it on occasion. James feels that any animal that comes into "our" territory and isn't afraid is a potential nuisance, so we keep an eye on it. If it becomes a problem, we institute the "final solution" in order to take those genes out of the gene pool.

    It might help to think like an animal... they can get into small spaces that we may never think they can. Reinforce and double check everything, and lock everyone in the safer coop until you catch the beasties. (and probably for a week after that). Good luck, Maggie.

    Stew, I always thought that mousetraps kill instantly, but we've discovered this winter that that was a wrong assumption. I guess there's no such thing as the perfect mousetrap. ;)

  4. Molly Hamilton10:23 AM

    I understand your feelings about letting the animals down. One of my goats just had a terrible loosing battle with some awful ailment. I did everything I could to help her survive, but it did not work. I feel like I let her down--didn't do enough, mismanaged, etc. I think it is what eventually comes with raising livestock. Each animal is a learning experience and you do the best you can.

    I am sorry about your poultry. I hope everything works out well for you.