Minks, Foxes and Murdered Chickens

Well, 6 ducks and a pullet. No pictures today.

It started this way. The fence was unplugged late last week.

Skip to the end, I come home from church Saturday night and find 5 dead ducks, one almost dead duck that couldn’t be pulled through the snow, a dead pullet (why do they never kill roosters!) and footprints in the snow. All bitten on the neck, nothing eaten. You know all those things they tell church people not to say? I’m ready to say them all. I hate minks. In all of creation I hate minks the most. They are smart hunters and viscous killers. A few years ago we lost 28 birds in one night to a mink.

If I hold the flashlight just right I can follow the track around the perimeter of the fence toward the big walnut tree and toward the iron pile. The iron pile.

I’m gonna git you sucka!

Gun in hand, I follow the track to the edge of the walnut tree’s canopy. At that point the snow is disturbed in a 100′ circle by snow that clumped on branches and fell off throughout the day. No more tracking. No shooting. No gittin’ suckas.

Just a long sleepless night.

Morning rolls around. Time to make the donuts. I take the flashlight out and hear the familiar duck greeting we are used to hearing. No additional casualties.  One duck is bloodied up but healing.

The fence is good and hot now. The ducks and hen will be rendered into cat food. Another day passes.

After checking that everything is cool outside I tuck into bed. At 4:30 I wake up. Time to make the donuts. I have a sickening feeling in my stomach. Maybe the mink found his way through the electric fence. Do I have any more ducks?

Once again, the familiar noise of ducks greets me. It’s kind of like the sound of laughter. Maybe cynnical laughter. I don’t particularly care for the ducks but I don’t want them to be killed by a mink.

The mink. He’s still out there. Somewhere. Hunting. Waiting. Searching. Biding his time. One sleepy night I won’t be paying attention and he’ll sneak in. Taking what is not his. And there will be little I can do about it.

Minks are skilled hunters and hard targets. I do have my trappers permit. It is season. But am I skilled enough? Will I kill the offending mink or just another mink?

Should I kill a mink?

Yesterday a fox ran past the cows in the pasture. We watched him stop, dig and hunt for mice then he jogged (do foxes jog?) to the pond to drink from the hole I cut in the ice. Finally he ran through the bottom East of the house. A few hours later I walked to the barn and a second fox was napping in the straw.

These predators can easily jump the electric fence and will help themselves to a chicken or two in the spring when they are feeding kits.

Should I kill a fox?

Maybe. My neighbors seem to think so. But fur is a fashion faux pas…for some reason. Like we are no longer a part of nature, just observers. Seems wasteful to just shoot it and let it rot. It’s kind of fun to see a fox run on the snow in the afternoon sun. They don’t kill all that many chickens (never roosters, only hens). How many mice do they kill?

Mr. Mink eats mice too. Do I value that service? I certainly don’t value serial killing of my ducks.

How do I balance this out? Shoot ’em all?

I don’t know.

I think I have to decide what a problem is and only deal with the problem. A dead chicken here or there isn’t much of a problem, really. 30 in one night is a problem. We dealt with that problem. But maybe we only lost the 6 because I didn’t turn on the fence. My bad. Is killing a chicken a capital crime? I guess not. But killing 30…that’s something else.

Obviously I have no problem with shooting animals. That’s just part of the deal. In the Zombie Post-Apocalyptic world I’ll shoot zombies. Skunks have a lot in common with zombies. But another part of the deal is being judicious about taking life. Part of stewardship is managing for biodiversity. That includes diversity among natural predators. Right?

Fence is off? Shame on me. Keep coming back for more? Shame on you.

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6 thoughts on “Minks, Foxes and Murdered Chickens

  1. In the past, I have had problems with raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and owls. I just basically had to deal with. I really hated when they would kill them and only eat the craw and leave the rest. I had to make sure the chicken house door was shut early at night and make sure all the guineas went into the house. The owls would catch the guineas at night if they were in the trees, so I had to grove them in the chicken house every night. That could get really interesting because Guinea Fowl are VERY intelligent. Great post and I am sorry about your ducks.

  2. no foxes don’t jog, they trot. (da dum ching, you set that one up didn’t you)

    I count on our great pyrenes and our other shelter shepard mut. they do a great job of getting out there and working. we still have mink and pests but (knocking on wood) losses are very rare and there is a seeming balance… if only they could catch the cussing beavers

  3. So far we have lost chickens to our own dog, once. The turkey does a good job of protecting the hens in the same pen. We definitely will have to learn to deal with these killings when we move to the country. I was worried about an owl in the neighbors tree, but it disappeared.

  4. Loved this post. Just so you know, I have the same conflicts of to kill or not kill in a pre-zombie apocalyptic world as well. I just lost a chicken to a hawk, and realized that he now will be returning for more on the buffet line. I’m not going to shoot the hawk, but I am worried the smell of him killing things will draw foxes and minks (both of which I’ve seen here). No electric fence, just a coop that shuts tight at night, hidey holes, and some area with bird netting. I hope they don’t get too hungry.

    • Thank you Jamie. You want that hawk to stay and work for you. You just don’t want him to eat your birds. You could try to annoy him with fishing line strung overhead. He won’t see it until he flies into it. That won’t hurt him or knock him out of the sky but will distract and annoy him so he hunts elsewhere.

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