Posted: Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Predator animals have been harassing man since the beginning of time by stealing their various birds, pets, and livestock of all kinds. Starting with some of the smallest like a weasel on up to the biggest one on the list the bear these predators have often times found an easy meal right in peoples yards. Few animals have much chance against a bear but there are several things you can do to protect yourself and your livestock against certain other ones.

Weasels are mainly interested in the blood of your poultry and often times all you will find is two puncture wounds in the throat area of the dead bird. You can greatly increase your chances of not having a weasel attack by keeping your place picked up and eliminating any place they could find to take up permanent residence. A wood or lumber pile is one of the most common places these little creatures like to hide in. If you need to have a wood or lumber pile make sure it is away from your chicken coup or you can count on dealing with a weasel or two.

One of the slowest creatures you will ever deal with is a possum and perhaps the dumbest too. You see for years people thought the possum would play dead to make another creature think he died and let it alone. In reality the possum has such a small brain that it can’t handle excitement of any kind and goes into a coma like trance that it has no control over. You can tell immediately if a possum killed your chicken as Mr. Possum starts eating at the beak and will be full by the time he reaches the area where the neck meets the body. This sly creature travels at night and are often times compared to an overgrown rat with a full set of sharp needle like teeth. They will eat most anything including cat food or dog food but have a real sweet tooth for chicken.

The raccoon is another troublesome pest that not only loves to knock down your corn crops but also loves many of the things in your garden besides another favorite of your chicken coup. Mr. Raccoon will not leave evidence behind like the possum does. Often times he will eat till he was full but drag the remaining carcass away and store it someplace like under the lumber pile for a snack later. You not only have to worry about getting bit by a raccoon but also clawed as they are also very effective and clawing you as well as biting you. Like a much smaller version of our grizzly bear but at times just as ornery. They also travel at night and prefer to seek safety by climbing a tree. They do not was all their food like some people may want you to believe, only the food they find near water or in water is washed. I have yet to see a raccoon carry a cob of corn any place to wash it!

The red fox is one of the worst predators to get started around your chicken pen. They too like to hunt at night but can also be found in early morning hours too and on occasion right during the middle of the day. They like to sneak in grab a bird and run away with the bird to eat it in the woods or maybe even in the den. The den is in the woods most generally but can also be found in fence lines and other areas not farmed. In most cases your not ever going to get close enough to a red fox to ever have to worry about getting bit. If Mr. Fox allows you to get that close be concerned he is probably sick with mange or even rabies. I have seen fox wander right in my yard in Wisconsin amongst the chickens in the middle of the day suffering from mange. Often times they will have hardly no hair on their tails and really ragged looking with nasty sores on the feet and other areas. I think perhaps this one particular fox even thought he was a chicken until He saw me come out of the house with the shotgun.

Coyotes, what can we say about Mr. Coyote? The coyote is perhaps the most adaptable predator animal on earth. They can live and survive in almost any climate and they will eat most anything that flies, crawls or swims. They hunt both day and night and are almost fearless if there is a free meal involved. I have seen coyote try to sneak up on a moose and grab a steak or two right in the middle of the day. He didn’t care that the moose out weighed him by over 800 lbs either. It wasn’t till he got a kick in the head that he headed off with perhaps a foggy vision of a mouse on his plate rather then a young bull moose. Coyotes hunt much bigger then they are and will kill sheep, deer and other fairly good-sized animals.

Then there is the top of the food chain, Mr. Bear..... There is also a whole large list of things these huge creatures will eat. It doesn’t matter much to them either if it is man made, cooked, raw or even alive. They will eat most anything and by far the most dangerous predator we have. In some areas you can almost be assured you going to have to deal with them so do your part in not enticing them to hang around your place. Few creatures ever survive a bear attack and once they get used to finding free food there is no limit to the amount of damage they can cause or how dangerous they can be.

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