The Raccoon is Back!

The Raccoon is Back!

Last year when the mother of all racoons invaded my backyard and ruthlessly killed my 6 Road Island Reds, I understood that I needed to be more vigilant about keeping my hens safely shut in their hen house at nights, or it would only be a matter of time before it would happen again.  Well, I’m afraid to admit that once again I became inattentive, and I allowed my hens to become vulnerable.   Instead of just vigilant, I should have been paranoid!  A couple weeks ago a raccoon went into the open hen house at night, walked up the ladder, went into the nesting area, grabbed my Barred Rock, drug her outside and proceeded to do the meaningless kill.  The reason I say meaningless is because these damn raccoons don’t even eat the hens.  They kill them, pull off some feathers, bite into the body in a few places, and quite frankly don’t even bother to eat any of the meat as far as I can tell.   That is why I don’t have any more compassion or sympathy for these raccoons.  If they were truly killing the hens in order to get food for survival, or to feed their young, then I would understand and respect their natural survival instincts, but when they don’t even bother to eat my hens, then I consider the raccoon an irrational predator that has no right being on my property!

That said, I will figure out later how to deal with the unwanted raccoons.  In the meantime, I have to once again be vigilant and paranoid, and understand fully that I can never, EVER, leave the hen house door open again at night or it will only be a matter of time when the raccoon(s) come back to kill some more.

When I went outside in the morning with my cup of coffee to do my usual stroll in the garden, I was standing on my back porch and saw in the distance that unexpected sight of grey white fluffy matter strewn about the grass next to the hen house.  My heart sank.  I knew instantly what it was, and I expected the worst after the massacre last year, but amazingly enough, the raccoon had only succeeded in dragging out one hen.  Unfortunately, it was my favorite and most affectionate Barred Rock.  She was such a sweetheart, and to make matters worse, the damn raccoon didn’t even kill her.  She was lying there, still breathing and alive, mangled on her neck and both sides of her body.  I quickly ran into the house to get my sharpest knife and grabbed a block of flat wood on the way back to her.  It only took a few seconds to end her misery.  What a way to start the day!  Then I drove my son to school, really, really mad at myself for allowing this to happen, again.  When will I ever learn?  She died because I was an irresponsible chicken owner.

It was interesting to see the behaviour of the Giant Jersey and Buff Orpington.  They spent a good 10 minutes or so just kneeling there beside my Barred Rock while she lay dead.  On closer review of the inside of the nesting area I could see that the raccoon had been inside because of all the feathers.  It even looked like he was close to dragging out the buff Orpington as well, because her feathers were all over the place too.  I didn’t see any marks on her however, so she was very lucky to escape within an inch of her life, or in this case a feather.

From now on I will always make sure to keep locks on the latches as well.  I’ve heard that racoons are very intelligent and their nimble fingers can open latches, so the I am using the clip variety in the photo.  They’re perfect for my hen house.

The next morning I went out to see if the raccoon had come back for a second kill attempt and sure enough, he had tried to dig his way under the hen house.  Fortunately, it is so well made, and the ground under the sand is so tough that he lost interest.    My neighbour did see him on his fence the other night, and it doesn’t look like it is the same monster raccoon from last year.  He was smaller, which probably accounts for the lesser damage done to my hens.  I don’t know if it was a male or female.

I am not finished with this post.  I will be researching the subject of racoons killing chickens this weekend and will get up a few website links.

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