Uh-oh, mystery predator

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Mr. Dot, May 1, 2005.

  1. Mr. Dot

    Mr. Dot Well-Known Member

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    Howdy
    Lost my first critter to a predator last night or early this morning. One of my ducks had her entire body cavity consumed down to the backbone. From her neck to where her legs start was laid open and bare with feathers scattered in a 4' radius. My poultry yard is fenced in field fence that has 2' poutry wire at the base, a hotwire running at 6" from the ground and a hotwire running along the top. I checked and I'm good and hot all around. No sign of digging under and no tracks that I could find (ground is dry and frozen). There is a fox in the neighborhood but I haven't seen him on my place lately. It occurs to me this might have been a predatory bird but I haven't seen any owls or hawks around. We do have ravens that raid the duck eggs if they find them before I do. Any ideas as to what might be after my birds? Does the carcass condition bring something to mind?
    Thanx.
     
  2. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    An oppossum. Sorry about your loss :( It'll keep coming back until all your birds are gone so take care for the next few nights. I'd stay up.
     

  3. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I thought possums preferred carrion or much smaller animals (i.e. mice) than a grown duck. Sure sounds like a fox to me.
     
  4. NWSneaky

    NWSneaky Well-Known Member

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    Possibility in view of the circumstances = an owl.
     
  5. Gayle in KY

    Gayle in KY Gadabout

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    The fox that killed my chickens last year took the whole bird. My guess is a 'possum or a cat- maybe even a domesticated one. I've seen cats do this many times.
     
  6. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    Opossums here have taken my full grown Cornish Rock crosses and laying hens. They climb the trees and attack at night in the roost and they keep coming back until their buffet is closed. They leave feathers all over and eviscerate the prey, which sounds like what Mr. Dot experienced. I don't have much experience with foxes. My only experience with foxes was seeing footprints and the loss (meaning complete disappearance with no evidence) of a chicken. Not saying it can't be a fox- it just sounds like a classic oppossum case to me. Here is a link to help with the diagnosis.Predator Diagnosis
     
  7. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I agree since it seems impossible for a fox to have gotten in.

    I'm still stumped about possums eating fowl. Growing up we had ducks, turkeys, chickens, a peacock, etc. and none of them were kept caged up. We had possums too (we even raised two baby possums after their mom and other siblings were hit by a car) and never had a problem with possums killing any of the fowl.

    Must be some hungry possums down in FL! Here in MS the only problem we have with them (on our farm anyway) is them eating cat food...and we have plenty of that to share! Of course, we have dogs who chase the possums and coons away too (the dogs recently killed two coons, but haven't killed a possum yet).
     
  8. Mr. Dot

    Mr. Dot Well-Known Member

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    I'm in and out today (working in the garden) so pardon the delays in answering. Thanks for the responses so far. Cool predator info Tango.
    Here's a question for fellow Montanans: when I lived in Oklahoma every bump on the road I ran over was either a possum or a red squirrel. Here in Montana I've never seen one on my place and, near as I can recall, never seen one at all. Do they live in these parts? I know we have skunks and the description fits for both. Still puzzeled by the means of entry. There are places a possum could shinney up a tree. I think we are far enough away from domestic cats for that to be unlikely. And there is that owl thing too. I'm going to drape my hotwire with bacon tonight and sit out in the cold evening with a rifle for a bit and see if I get lucky. I have a smaller hav-a-heart trap that I've baited with the remains and placed outside the perimeter in case it might be a weasel or some other small good-for-nothing. The chickens get shut in nightly - the geese and ducks won't have any of that. Sure would be nice to hit whatever it is between the eyes in a timely fashion.
     
  9. Nan(TX)

    Nan(TX) Well-Known Member

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    If it is a bird of prey there is not a lot that you can do about them.

    The Migratory Bird Treaty Act

    Unless and except as permitted by regulations . . . it shall be unlawful at any time, by any means, or in any manner to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill...possess, offer for sale, sell...purchase...ship, export, import . . .transport or cause to be transported . . . any migratory bird, any part, nest, or eggs of any such bird . . . included in the terms of the conventions between the United States and Great Britain (acting for Canada)...the United States and the United Mexican States . . . and the United States and the Government of Japan" (emphasis added).
    The word "take" is defined as meaning "to pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or attempt to pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect" (50 CFR 10.12).
    ----------------
    The maximum criminal penalty for an individual violating the Act is a $5000 fine and a six-month jail term for each count (18 U.S.C.571; 16 U.S.C. 707).

    http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/...ws/birdlaws.htm

    List of Migratory Birds
    http://migratorybirds.fws.gov/intrn...ta/mbtandx.html
    http://migratorybirds.fws.gov/intrn...a/mbtintro.html

    Final List of Bird Species to Which the Migratory Bird Treaty Act Does Not Apply
    http://www.animallaw.info/administr...12710_12716.htm
     
  10. bgak47

    bgak47 Well-Known Member

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  11. QueenB04

    QueenB04 Well-Known Member

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    That's interesting. Sounds like a classic possum kill, but I'm more inclined to agree with the idea of a predatory bird, as you said the feathers were in a radial area. If it were a terrestrial predator the hair/feathers should be on the main attack or consumption side. Where as with a bird they usually stand on their carcass to hold the body down with a food as they shred and pluck the hair/feathers away from their carcass and since they don't have limbs shake their head to get all the feathers out of their mouth. If it were a fox, especially at this time of the year for us we've seen a few kits out, they generally take their kill with them or at least a good distance away, and often time will burry smaller kills. If a fox gets caught or startled they will drop their prey and run. We had possums after our chickens, and ours is an entirely closed in run attached to the coop. The coop is part of a large shed that has our wood shed attached next to it, and our tool and equip shed attached to that. The darn things would go through the wood shed and dig a hole back behind our stacks of wood to get to them.
    They would do the same thing, eat from the head down to the chest area, from the inside out but leave the lower abdomen and legs.
    We fought to death with the possums, fox, and the occasional skunk, and after we got the pigs especially my hog we've managed to keep every chicken since, and our recent brood of 14. We actually found a dead possum in the hog pen, poor thing was flat as a pancake, he was smuggling their corn. Pigs never had a scratch on them, but the poor possum sure could of looked better. It was kind of poetic justice. I swear to my pigs. Keep it in mind if you have the space for them.
    Overall though I agree with the bird theory, keep an eye for owl pellets near by, I have heard that dummy owls to get rid of squirrles and crows and things can help to fend off other predatory birds. Never tried it, but I remember reading something on it. Good luck with everything.
     
  12. baysidebunny

    baysidebunny Well-Known Member

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    Mr Dot, where in Montana are you located?
    I'm originally from Great Falls but lived for 10 years in Helena and another 6 in Bozeman. I have never seen an opposum in all my years growing up there and that includes my whole childhood camping out all over the central and western area's.

    I'm in Washington state now and I saw 3 opposums on the road today.
    I was just thinking earlier as I passed one (as road kill) how odd looking
    they are being as how I had never seen one up until now.

    I recently pulled over in my car to watch an eagle that had swooped down to pick up a rabbit. It circled above a field with that rabbit and then brought it back down and pounced on it repeatedly to kill it before eating it. I found that really interesting. (better than the Discovery channe. lol)
    If it was a bird that attacked your duck, maybe it was pouncing on it first and that may have caused the feathers in a radious as they were. Just a wild guess.

    Well I hope you'll find out what it was and tell us because you have me curious.
    Do you think it may have been a snipe? ;) ;) ;)

    Good luck.

    Hey, by the way, we both spell Thanx the same! :D
     
  13. bgak47

    bgak47 Well-Known Member

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    Bigfoot! He just stepped over the fence & helped himself to the duck. A snack.
     
  14. uncleotis

    uncleotis Well-Known Member

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    How about a raccoon? I know they will eat that type of stuff. Someone had ducks in a barn with a bad roof and the coons got in and killed all their ducks for them.

    uncleotis
     
  15. twstanley

    twstanley Well-Known Member

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    I agree sounds like a classic racoon kill to me. They did the same thing around here, no chance it was an owl or a larger predator at all on mine due to where the remains were found in another outbuilding in an area a racoon or possum could get into but no coyote, fox or owl. Bare neck, feathers scattered in a circle around it, empty rib cage was all that was left.

    They kept coming back until I shot a couple and caught the last one ( who I had previously either winged or scared the daylights out of with my AR-15 ) in a trap which he somehow clawed his way out of overnight. He hasn't come back so I have the racoon problem solved for now.
     
  16. OldYellersGhost

    OldYellersGhost Well-Known Member

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    I like that one!
     
  17. reluctantpatriot

    reluctantpatriot I am good without god.

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    Whether legal or not, predators of livestock "disappear" no matter what species they are. I don't know of anyone in particular who fires anti-raptor surpressive fire around their poultry pens, but it wouldn't surprise me if someone told me that it happens here. It is one thing to kill for the sake of killing, but it is another when your livestock, or the safety of pets and family, are concerned.

    I hear rumors of things that happen, but I couldn't tell you who actually does them or if they are truth or merely fiction. Doesn't pay to poke around. The philosophy where I live is "shoot, shovel, shut up" so I let the talk of predators taking dirt naps lie as a sleeping dog.

    I wish you the best of luck in dealing with your predator problem.
     
  18. oregonbuckaroo

    oregonbuckaroo Member

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    we go by the shoot, shovel, shut up way around here to
     
  19. Mr. Dot

    Mr. Dot Well-Known Member

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    Hello again.
    Well, I spent a good part of the night of the kill on the coop roof tucked into a sleeping bag with a rifle and spotlight next to me. No action.
    The next morning I let the dogs out and they chased a grey cat that I just got enough of a glimpse of to know it wasn't our grey cat. That reminded me that the morning of the kill (day before) the dogs had chased a cat that I was certain was our cat. Didn't get a look but I've never seen another cat around here. I was so certain that it was our cat that I scolded (yelled) at the dogs for chasing their housemate. So while the mystery continues, I think Gayle in KY's suggestion of a domestic cat moves to the head of the line. I still have a hard time imagining a cat consuming the contents of the body cavity but the fact that a puss stranger was here lends credence.
    So anyway, two days now with no additional loses. The bacon I draped around on the hotwire caught the attention of my middle dog and has reinforced his already healthy respect for Mr. Electric Fence. If it is a four-legged predator I have a feeling they might have learned the same lesson.

    At an undisclosed westslope mountainside lair in the Blackfoot drainage baysidebunny. I guess possums just aren't around in this part of the world. Never thought much about that before. Haven't laid eyes on a raccoon nearby either for that matter. I see bandit roadkill now and then in the river valleys but I think we might be a little out of their territory at this altitude and distance from running water.

    Anyhow, so far so good - knock wood. Thanks for the responses. I learned a thing or two about the enemy(s).
     
  20. Quint

    Quint Well-Known Member

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    Aliens to be sure. Just be glad they didn't decide to probe you.

    Keep an eye out for black helicopters. They're bound to be sneaking around. ;)

    In seriousness SSS might be in order.