Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Joys of Farming - Predator Animals

In the last couple of weeks we have noticed a few missing chickens from our coop.  Our adult birds seemed fine and the younger group were not the smartest animals we've ever seen.  So we didn't fret too much.

Then, instead of missing birds, we started finding injured birds, chewed on and mauled.  Our main group still seemed fine.  But we definitely had an eye out and were more attentive at any unusual crowing or squawking.

This morning, while my son and I were out and about with our farm chores, my son came running and yelling, "Bear! Bear!"

It was NOT A BEAR!

And fortunately for my heart, I had an eye on him the entire time and knew there was no bear.  Can you imagine? *shiver*

So I encouraged him to CALMLY tell me what he saw.  He said there were 'bear tracks'.  So I went over to inspect them.  They were obviously not bear tracks.... but they were obviously not the semi innocent tracks of my cats, or even a dog.  So I took a few pictures.  Hard to do when it was POURING down rain.  But hey, that's Washington for you.

Then we went inside and checked our boy scout handbook.  It had nothing similar, so I turned to google.  I searched for raccoon tracks first, but that was quickly ruled out as these prints were all uniform in size and had five toes showing instead of four.  So... I just looked for animal tracks and scanned through them.

And I came across this handy pdf book showing several varieties and

this graphic showing several.

As you can see, most animal prints do not show five toes.

So I have concluded that it is a mink or a fisher.  What is the difference between the two??? No idea.  They look the same, their tracks are pretty much the same, their scat is pretty much the same and they behave the same.

They are in the weasel family.  They mostly eat woodland animals but are known to really tear into a flock of poultry and have even attacked children on occasion.

Fortunately we have a trap for just this size of animal.  We mostly use it to catch stray cats that are constantly dumped out here.  Hopefully, we will catch this pesky predator and I can share a pic of that too!


  1. I hope you don't have a nasty surprise and find a skunk in your trap waiting for you. :) That's what your tracks look like to me. They're almost as bad as raccoons. Anyway, hope you catch your bird burglar.

  2. Nothing found in our traps. :( We caught a weasel type creature a couple months later in the coop. Death to our enemies!. I wouldn't rule out a skunk visiting the property though.