Baseball, Fire and Death

(Warning:  there are gory photos farther down in this post)

So on Thursday evening we went to our first baseball game of the year.  We watched the Everett Aquasox take on the Eugene Emeralds.  We mostly went to watch Robbie Cano return from his suspension.  He hit well but did not play 1st base well.  The Aquasox lost, but we had a fun time.

Driving north home Tom noticed that the freeway was slow just north of the Cook Road exit so decided to get off a little early.  We realized that the freeway was completely stopped.  We made our way home, and I was able to facebook that there was a fire on the side of the freeway.

Here is a link to a scary video of the fire taken earlier in the day.

There was a bad crash that happened after we got off the freeway that took a 22 year old’s life.  So scary.

We both had to work the next morning.  I left early, and Tom did the chores before we went in.  But he found a dead goose and then four dead chickens scattered around their field.  He noticed that they seemed to only have head injuries.  He also noticed that Steve had somehow escaped into the back forty (actually back 4) that morning which he has never been able to do before.  Tom picked up the bodies, finished the chores, got Steve back in the back yard, and arrived at work late because of this.

There was a coyote in our back yard last night that Tom took a shot at.  There were no more dead animals overnight.

So here are gory photos of the dead bodies (DBs).  I pulled them out this morning because I am trying to determine what killed them.  Tom thinks the roosters and the geese were fighting amongst themselves and that is what killed these guys.

So I am trying to look at the evidence to determine which type of predator we have so we can prevent further tragedy.  We made a mistake this spring in not identify the predator quickly enough and more lives were lost, so I am trying not to repeat that mistake and am looking for advice.

So here are closeup of the heads where all the damage seems to have occurred.  I do not see bite marks or peck marks for that matter.  No eating of the bodies seems to have occurred, and there is minimal feather loss.

This hen however was almost decapitated.

So I looked at the crime scene.  Tom first found the goose here.

He found one of the red roosters here.

Here is some of the nearby feathers.

Here is a trail of goose feathers out to where its DB was.

Here is where the red hen was by the barn.

And some of her feathers.

And here is near where the orange and white hen was, near the gate to where the sheep are located.

More of her feathers.  I looked hard at all these areas looking for clues like hairs or prints but could not find anything.  

These witnesses were not talking.

These ones either.

And not even the donkeys.  We are not sure when this happened.  Our bedroom window was open because it as warm out, and I would have thought that we would be able to hear the goose commotion or the donkeys braying if happened after we got home.

Everything is so dry there are not foot prints.  I looked in the mud near the goose pool but only saw goat, sheep. chicken and goose prints.  Here are some rooster feathers that were obviously pulled out not near any of the DBs.  So obviously there was a chase, and our poor animals were terrified.

We looked at the fence perimeter for any clues.  There was no evidence of digging or evidence hanging on the fence.  The most likely ingress spot for a larger animal would be this sagging fence line near where the red hen died.  But it would be hard to jump back out at this spot.

And here is Steve demonstrating how he likes to play with his stuffed animals.  He likes to grabbed them by the neck and fling them around.  And he does like the chase the cat that runs away from him.

So I suspect Steve but do not want to come to the wrong conclusions and do the incorrect emergency interventions.  So we talked about a variety of potential predators, and I have spent some time on line considering the possibilities.  Most predators would have eaten at least part of the animal.  Minks and weasels are known to kill for sport and leave bodies behind but usually they try to pile or stash them for later eating.  They do kill with a bite to the head.  But I am having a hard time imaging that they could take out a full size goose.  I could not find any websites that mentioned them doing this.  A turkey site mentions that they do not usually do adult turkeys but go for the younger and smaller ones.  But I did find this scary photo of a mink attacking a Canada goose.

The ideas that Tom had that it was infighting does not make much sense to me.  Why would the bodies be scattered about?  And why, all of a sudden, five deaths in one night?

We have had minks kill in our barn before including adult chickens and ducks.  And not all the bodies were eaten.  But the fact that these animals were chased around the pasture is suspicious to me.

So my prime suspect is Steve, and I have nailed a hog panel up to the sagging fence.  My security camera will not work by the barn, but we will move the game camera out there.  And we will lock the animals in the barn tonight.  I am thinking about letting the donkeys in that pasture at night too.  But if I am wrong, and it is a mink or weasel then I am making things worse not better.

So I would love any input from those of you who raise poultry.

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6 Responses to Baseball, Fire and Death

  1. Jeanne says:

    Oh, Donna! How awful!! I’m so sorry – on all accounts. I hope the right answer comes to light. And I hope it’s not Steve!

  2. So sorry for your loss, losing animals is tough. I think your instincts may be correct. As you say, it is an easy fix to confine Steve. Dogs love the game of chase and because the animals were not eaten …. Good luck.

  3. Well, shit. So sorry you’ve had more bad luck 🙁 My first thought was a loose dog. BUT, when the neighbor’s dogs have gotten out and come over here and attacked our birds (more than once but that’s another story) they did so from behind – they didn’t kill any but pulled out lots of tail feathers. They never got in a position to get a head or neck in their mouths. I’m talking about a pitt bull and a small terrier though.

    • Donna says:

      That is helpful information. I am still not sure. Not further losses due to predation directly anyway. I am about to post the latest news on the investigation. Stay tuned!

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