Monday, June 06, 2005

The Chicken Feed Thief

I have an old barred rock hen and a guinea that live together in a pen out in the garden...kind of an odd couple. The hen is too old to free range and the guinea is too fond of roosting on the porch, so they live together in a nice cage. Not too long ago I noticed the hen was missing a few toes, as if something had attacked her through the cage wire. Also the galvanized metal can that I store chicken feed in was being knocked over and opened on a nightly basis.
So I set my Havahart trap under the chicken pen just to see who the culprit was. This morning I found a healthy raccoon sitting unharmed in the trap. He wasn't a bad racoon, he was just doing what raccoons do.

If you are going to live with wildlife, there has to be an understanding that sometimes we're going to clash. What you have to keep in mind is that the wildlife is operating under instinctive imperatives. They instinctively seek out shelter, food, and water. Sometimes they "seek" in the wrong places.We are the ones with the ability to think and solve these compatability problems. It's hardly fair to move onto their turf and then complain about them eating your garden or sampling your chickens. The responsibility is on me as the thinker in this relationship.

My system is something like this: 1) Accept some losses and occasional inconvenience 2) Take away opportunities for those losses, example: build a better fence or cage 3) Change their behaviors so they don't repeat it...this raccoon did not enjoy being in this trap even though he was not harmed. He'll probably avoid the chickens for a while.
4) Imagine living without them.

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