Monday, January 7, 2013

Raccoon trouble

Last night raccoons got two of our chickens. Richard heard a noise in the middle of the night that he thought was one of our kids having a nightmare. He got up, walked around for a little while in his underwear, and didn't hear anything more. He came back to bed (I was sound asleep) and then heard more noise -- got dressed, went down and looked out back and saw one raccoon on our deck. So he went outside, saw another raccoon escaping from our chicken run, and then found two dead, half-eaten chickens by the coop and feathers all over the place. This is very upsetting and the first time since we got chickens over 3 years ago that we've lost any to predators. The two that got killed are the one that lays green eggs and the little red hen. I do feel like it is my fault in that I had stopped locking the chickens in their coop in the night. The door was open so that they could come out early in the mornings. They have netting over their run, which seems to keep cats and out, but is not raccoon-proof. I had decided that the raccoons around here were too well fed to bother climbing through the netting. The main precaution we have always taken was to not leave food out at night. But this week there were apple cores in the compost out there -- maybe that attracted them? Maybe they are hungrier in the wintertime? Aren't they supposed to be hibernating? Tonight the remaining 3 hens are locked away safe and we've got a trap set. Apparently raccoons keep returning once they've found your coop. The bait that's recommended on the forum for urban raccoons is marshmallows and cat food. Richard was out setting it up at dusk and saw one climbing up the net already (at 6pm !) So we'll see late tonight if we've got one. I'm not sure what we're going to do with it if we do... Update: 2 nights later and no raccoons yet.

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