Fisher Cat Nabbed!
by Pete on November 5th, 2012

Over the last two weeks we lost about a dozen laying hens to an unknown predator.  After years of raising chickens we have become pretty adept at figuring out which critters were nabbing our birds.  A poof of feathers means a coyote, a heavily nibbled carcass with feet still attached but head and all else gone located inside the confines of the fencing means an owl.  An innocent chicken with it's head pulled off and bits strewn apart all over the place is the work of a wiley racoon.  Feathers strewn about with the chest ripped open, a hawk.  But these last few weeks we had been stumped.

It began about two weeks ago when I found a random hen laying in the middle of the field, clearly dragged their by some critter but only partially eaten and not in the usual way.  Then another one inside the fence line, dead, but with barely any sign of attack of bite marks.  And again -  another bird dragged to the fence line (from the inside) and left there with it's head bitten off and part of it's neck chewed.  Hmm, what could it be! 

After doing some research I was thinking it could be a fox.  Someone had told us they'd seen a fox run through the field a few weeks back.  It was fairly easy to tell the direction most of the attacks were coming from since the majority of the birds were dragged in one direction and specifically to a corner of the fence line.  So I set some traps.

I set up two Have-a-hart live traps with the carcasses of the dead birds lying in repose in the back of each one.  These are the traps where the animal walks inside, steps on the trip plate and the opening slams shut trapping them inside.  We normally catch woodchucks in them but I was hoping they were big enough to also catch whatever was killing our birds. 

After the first nite I caught nada.  One of the traps was knocked over, oddly enough, but the birds were still inside.  So this next night I added a third trap, baited it with some tasty anchovies for added attractiveness and also put out our game camera to see if we could catch the critter on film....A N D.....Oila! 

The culprit was a Fisher Cat.  These are medium-sized members of the weasel family not native to these lands.  They were brought here long ago to reduce the porcupine population and now they are a vicious predator of chickens, rabbits and house cats.  They can dig and climb trees with their strong claws and large feet, and munch on most anything with their strong jaws and large teeth.  They are an incredible creature but we'd rather they keep their distance from our hens!

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Merry - November 8th, 2012 at 7:20 PM
Yep, we've seen one in our back yard. It likes the Koi in our neighbor's pond. Well, at least it's not the...CHUPACABRA!
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