Skunks or Foxes

Posted by: Shadowbast

Skunks or Foxes - 07/15/15 10:28 AM

I have a repeat offender on my hands here and I am not sure what to do.
There is either a fox or skunk, from what I can tell, tunneling under my fence (which is dug down into the ground about a foot or so) and into my chicken run. It has happened several times now. The tunnel is about 8" or so wide and it goes really deep. I found the other side of the tunnel about fifteen feet away on the outside, so whatever it is has to be an excellent digger. The first time I found a hole, I tried to flood it out to see if I could find the culprit. But no luck. So I filled the whole with rocks and buried it. Then nothing for about 2 weeks (that same night a small black bear also tried to get into the coop, so i think the fox-skunk must have been scared away). Then, a few days ago, it came back and killed one of my girls. It had dug a new tunnel off of the old one. The weird thing is that though there was a tunnel clearly leading in, the chicken was seemingly killed by having it's head ripped off through the fence about thirty feet away from the tunnel (I found the head on the other side of the fence). And it did not take the chicken. Another one has an injured leg...I am burying chain link into the floor of the run (like I do with gopher mesh in my garden). And trying to go down and check on the chickens around dusk, which is when the incidents occur. Is there anything else to do? I don't like killing things, but if there is another animal killing my livelihood, I'll do what I have to do. What is the best way to trap or kill whatever this is? Is there any kind of animal urine or anything like that that I could put around my coop to keep the bad guys away?
Posted by: Robbie

Re: Skunks or Foxes - 07/19/15 05:55 AM

I am not sure what it could be, it sounds very determined. I have hardware cloth along the bottom of my pens to prevent chickens from sticking their heads out or anything reaching in. I don't think repellents work that great myself......... but, with humans being the uber- predator, you could try human urine, at least there's a plentiful supply ;-)

Weasels are the worst, they get through tiny holes and randomly slaughter anything they can, even though they couldn't possibly eat all that chicken.
Have you considered electric fencing, with some strands low near the ground? Some people put out those wildlife video cameras to find out what's going after their chickens. If you know for sure, it's easier to stop it. Good luck,
Posted by: HD Chick

Re: Skunks or Foxes - 02/19/16 09:26 AM

I know this is an old post but it sounds like a skunk as they only take one at a time and always in the evening when they are going to or have already roosted. No slaughter house as a fox does. Best way to catch them is an egg in a live trap, they rather take eggs than chickens.
Posted by: Robbie

Re: Skunks or Foxes - 02/21/16 05:55 AM

Someone was mentioning on another forum that a liberal dusting of cayenne hot pepper powder around the coop perimeter has been successful discouraging skunks (reapplied after each rainfall). I'm going to try that one this spring.
Posted by: GitaBooks

Re: Skunks or Foxes - 08/08/16 08:23 PM

Skunks can differ a lot in their behavior, but I just wanted to say, the skunks we have come around have rarely ever gone after a chicken. They can dig, but usually they go after eggs. We even have a skunk named Denarius (wild) who will snuggle up with our chicks in the nest boxes when nervous. He doesn't spray me, attack them, or cause any damage next to the egg eating. I go out early enough and shut the coop up and he can't hurt any of them. Broody hens are locked into secure wire crates with their chicks for extra protection if outside of the main chicken roost.

Foxes, however, are determined, intelligent, and good diggers. They will come back, day or night, and catch a stash of chickens that they bury out in the woods for later use if they ever go hungry. They learn human behavior and know how to avoid being caught and so are much trickery then skunks, which are bad jumpers, terrible runners, and seem a little slow in the head sometimes.

Denarius is not the first skunk I've had around. His mother (I think it was his mother) Black Star only killed one chicken, a mother bantam hen, and I'm pretty sure it was out of desperation to feed her six young kits. Otherwise, she too only dug into pens to go after eggs. She memorized where they were laid and returned to these areas. She also ate chicken food and cat food, as well as any insects in the area.

Skunks are not built to be hunters but opportunistic omnivores. Burying the wire down into the ground a foot or so is a great way to stop digging. You can also try putting stones around the border, locking the chickens up earlier (before dusk, using treats to lead them inside), and laying down wire inside the run, covering that with dirt and grass seed so that the hens can still forage but nothing can dig inside.

I hope you can stop whatever it is coming after your flock. Best of luck!