I lived in Southern California for 10 years. I had 65 ducks I raised for herding trials, 60 sheep (mixed flock) and a few chickens. Unbelievable what a person must learn when raising livestock.

One morning I was walking the fence line and found a half buried barbados ewe...a little research and we were certain a Mountain Lion had visited. We later found another one. This after a neighbor had spotted the lion approaching the property. The property was in Modjeska Canyon, adjacent to where that biker got dragged by a lion.

Getting to birds....I didn't have any trouble with the birds for the longest time. But one morning I came down to the field to the most horrific scene. I had 8 Khaki drakes free ranging adjacent to the larger group of ducks. All of them were dead. They were so beautiful and I just couldn't believe the site. 2 were missing, the rest lay there decapitated. I called my Fish and Game contact and described the scene. He assured me it was a Mountain Lion. They, being cats, like to play with all their prey. They'll wipe out the whole hen house to eat one.

Then the coyotes. They just slip in, take one bird, and slip out...unless you have the unfortunate occurrence of a pack coming in, but I never did, even with all those animals. I usually locked them up at night, but occassionaly was late coming home from work and would lose one here an there to a coyote.

When I had ducklings, I'd lose them to crows until I made a nursery with a wire roof. The crows would swoop in and steal eggs too. My dog would guard the birds during feeding time to keep the crows off the food.

Now I live in Oregon. I spent the first year and a half with only one predator event. It was bazarre really. The farm was surrounded by 5 ft 2x4 no-climb fencing and had 7 dogs on it. One morning I came into the hen house and my bantam Rhode Island Red was dead. I didn't see a mark on her. But the hen house was a wreck. All the nests were torn up and the feeder was completely empty. We were having a rare deep freeze that week. I asked around and everyone figured it was the Spotted Owls that lived in the grainery. One night. The ground was so cold all the mice and voles were staying under ground. I wasn't sure about this until the next night when I went to lock up the ducks. My dog was putting the ducks in the hen house and she and the ducks stopped just short of the door. I told her "walk up" and she wouldn't. I took one step toward the ducks and saw a white streak take off, at first it seemed it was on the ground, but then just gone. My dog went after it, but didn't catch it. That was the friendly owl. I locked the hen house every night until the ground warmed up.

Then I moved the animals to another farm. For 2 months the only problem I had was the dogs on the property and the drakes chasing some juvenile ducks I tried to add to the flock. Scared the ducks so bad, they escaped from the pasture and the dogs killed 4 of the five.

In the last two weeks I lost 4 chickens and have one injured one. I found feathers, and the fence appeared to be climbed on. I'd never have believed the culprit had it not been witnessed by the residents of the farm. They were out in the pasture with a downed cow in labor and heard the ruckus. They ran to the chicken yard with a flashlight and saw my big plump Barred Rock being dragged by a skunk. The skunk was dragging her by the head. Skunky got the bird stuck at the corner of the hen house. My friend scared the skunk away. The hen seemed okay, but was quiet the next day. I worked on the fencing the next day, lowering the electric wire closer to the ground. The next day all birds were present. But on closer inspection, there had been a visitor. They skunk had tried to take two birds - the same Barred Rock, whose head was now so swollen she couldn't open her eyes, and a bantam Polish, whose head was less a few feathers, and one eye swollen shut.

I rounded up some help for the weekend with putting a dog kennel around the hen house, but meanwhile I did lose that Polish. I caught all the hens and put them in my "hospital" pen, except for the White Japanese who seems to sleep with one eye open. My Barred Rock is in a dog crate and I'm giving her water through a syringe. She drinks it willingly. The swelling has reduced a little, but she doesn't seem to be eating on her own.

My hospital pen is a 10x12 kennel with wire on the roof, but I have not put a floor in. I'll have to get plywood and make a floor. I use it for my White Sultan and two Mille Fleurs. My Sultan, aka Chicken Little or Snow Flake, is a pet. Anyway, that is my predator story. I get mad each time I see the feathers on the ground and the trail of eggshells from all the eggs that skunk stole.

I have set a trap and we intend to shoot it once trapped. If it evades the trap another night, we'll sit up and wait for it I guess.
Tracy Wessel