Although other than the weasel incident last fall, our chickens have generally been safe while inside the pasture fences. Even so, since the weasel, we have made an extra effort to make sure all of the chickens are locked inside the coop every night.
In addition to the weasel, we had occasionally seen foxes and coyotes in the area. We set out our new game camera (which we used to track down the weasel) to see what other predators might be around the farm at night.
Raccoons are a common chicken predator that can kill an entire flock if they get into the coop at night. We captured a family of raccoons just outside the pastures one night. They don’t appear on camera on multiple nights over a couple month period so hopefully they were just passing through and don’t live in the immediate vicinity.
In addition to the raccoons, we also captured a coyote traveling along the trail one night. It doesn’t appear in multiple shots either so likely isn’t living in the immediate vicinity.
The most common predator that appeared on camera – it appeared on many nights in front of the same location – was a red fox. In addition to the pictures from the back of the pastures, the red fox also ran across our back porch, right in front of the patio door one evening. We think that it lives fairly close as we see it or signs of it semi-regularly.
We even managed to catch it on video one night as well.
In addition to the more normal raccoons, coyotes and foxes, we also caught a glimpse of a somewhat elusive predator, a fisher. Although sometimes called a fisher cat, it is actually a large member of the weasel family that doesn’t eat fish very often. They live in forested areas (like the one just behind our pastures) and are not spotted by humans that frequently as they camouflage well and are more active at dawn and dusk. They used to be heavily hunted for their pelts and their numbers were dwindling, but they have made a strong recovery – though they are still somewhat rare in our area from our understanding.
These somewhat small animals (about the size of a house cat) are tough – they are one of the few predators that regularly kill and eat porcupines.
We only caught it on camera one night, so it likely was just passing through or lives deeper in the woods. They don’t like to traverse open spaces very often so it is unlikely to cross an open field to try to get into our chicken coop.