At the beginning of this month, I had a little scare!
Recently, during my daily morning routine of feeding and caring for my ducks, I made the startling discover of raccoon tracks on top of my duck coop!!
If you are familiar with ducks, you know that the raccoon is one of their top predators! Especially for young ducklings like Mary & Ruth.
I was very disturbed to find these raccoon tracks!
It was a complete shock! I have went to great lengths to ensure my duck pen and coop are predator safe!! Because my ducks are more than pets; they are part of the family!
Our duck pen is solid and seemingly impenetrable. We used 1/2″ hardware cloth to encase the entire enclosure and even buried the wired 12-18″ deep to prevent digging predators. Just look at this duck pen! I refer to it as the Duckie Taj Mahal!
The Duckie Taj Mahal is quite safe!
However, this spring I built an add-on to our current duck pen that I affectionately referred to as the “Bachelor Pen”. I built this second pen in hopes to separate Waffles (my only Cayuga duck) from the Ancona ducks so we could have pure-bred Ancona ducklings born in the spring. But ducks have their own plans!! They made it VERY clear that they would not tolerate a separation!
Now this “Bachelor Pen” has been converted into the “Baby Pen.” This is where our newest flock members (Gabby, Mary, & Ruth) reside until everyone can live harmoniously together in the Duckie Taj Mahal!
The temporary pen isn’t as safe…
As you can see, this second pen isn’t built quite as predator proof as the DuckieTaj Mahal. It is constructed from a spare piece of chain link fence that the previous owners of our home left behind. This made for a quick, easy, and cheap option for a second pen but not completely safe.
I was willing to take this risk because this pen is meant to be a temporary accommodation for my ducks. I felt comfortable allowing them to stay in the pen during the day as long as they were locked up in the coop at night. Although I know chain link is not completely predator proof, I did not dream that a raccoon would squeeze its way inside. Yet here is picture evidence of our un-welcomed night visitor:
NO ducks were harmed from this breech in security.
I was so happy to find all the ducks safe and happy when I let them out of the coop that morning. But this incident rattled my nerves. I couldn’t believe that a raccoon had squeezed its fat body around my chain link gate door and walked all over my duck coop.
Thankfully I use raccoon proof locks on my coop doors so the ducks were completely safe inside. But I am sure they had quite the scare that night with a masked bandit on the roof!
The raccoon has GOT TO GO!
My first reaction after finding raccoon tracks on my duck coop was, “The raccoon has to go!!”
So naturally I went to my local sportsman goods store and bought a box trap. I was going to humanely trap the coon and relocate him away from my ducks. Then everyone could live happily every after.
But after further research I found that it is ILLEGAL in North Carolina to trap and relocate a raccoon because it is a rabies vector animal. By North Carolina law, if you trap a raccoon you have two options: destroy it or release it in the same spot.
It is also illegal to trap and kill the coon out of season. Hunting season for the raccoon is October – February. And since it’s only June, I’m out of luck. I can’t relocate the raccoon and I can’t kill it. Not that I want to kill it. I hate to destroy an animal for just following its natural instincts, even if it is after my ducks.
So what’s a girl and her ducks to do?
I tried to catch it on camera!
My husband has a part time job at Cabela’s and one of the perks of this side job is the benefit of trying out different products!
Shortly after discovering our predator problem, my husband conveniently brought home a game trail camera to test out for a week.
First order of business was to scope out how the raccoon was getting into my temporary duck pen so maybe I could prevent its entry. I am pretty sure the raccoon is entering at the gate. So we pointed the camera here and waited.
And initially all I got were duck pictures before they were all safely put to bed:
And the next morning, all the trail camera caught was me delivering breakfast to the ducks.
The predators were FINALLY caught on camera!
Sadly, and thankfully, I never did see the raccoon trying to sneak into my duck coop again.
However, when we relocated the trail camera to our lower yard (near the creek and pond), I did catch a glimpse of a couple troubling predators.
At 9:03 PM, just minutes after it gets dark, we caught the silhouette of a very fast moving fox.
And a hour later, we finally got a picture of the raccoon lumbering through our yard.
I can’t be sure this is the same raccoon that broke into my duck pen but it’s highly possible.
So what do I do about the predators??
Clearly I have predators on the loose! Raccoons and foxes are highly dangerous to my ducks! It was really cool to catch them on camera though.
My Duckie Taj Mahal pen is completely predator proof and I am confident my ducks are safe there.
My temporary duck pen is not as predator proof so I ensure the ducks are safely put to bed inside their coop before dark to decrease the risk of a predator attack.
I also take care to pick up any left over duck feed from the day and lock it away at night to discourage any scavengers like the raccoon.
I will not bother the predators as long as they do not bother us anymore!
Bonus clips from the trail camera!
For your viewing pleasure, here are some other bits of gold that the trail camera captured!
1. Here is a video of Gabby and Mary running after me as I exit the duck pen.
“Wait for me momma!”
2. I think this picture is of the elusive mythical chupacabra.
3. We captured this rare and wonderful picture of a momma doe and her tiny baby fawn!
4. And last, but certainly not least, there is my husband being a goof ball.
** This blog post contains affiliate links. All products I recommend have my stamp of approval. If you happen to purchase one of my recommended items, not only will it make your life easier but it will help me make a couple extra bucks in this Hard Duck Life! **
Trail cameras are pretty awesome!
Trail cameras are very convenient to find out exactly what’s happening when you can’t be around. Especially when it comes to night time predators.
If you are suspicious that you may have unwanted visitors at night you should consider using a trail camera to catch them in the act!
We were using the SpyPoint Link-Evo-V trail camera that had a pretty cool feature. It has an app and a Verizon cellular plan so the pictures can be transmitted right to your phone! You can have instantaneous photos at your finger tips.
It takes pretty good pictures and it can even take videos. But if the animals are moving fast, like the fox above, it gets a little blurry. The batteries also drain quickly if you have the pictures transmitted often to your phone. So we had our photos transmitted about every 6-8 hours to save battery life.
Our camera was from Cabela’s but Amazon has it a little bit cheaper. Here’s the link if you are interested! And it’s on Prime so you could have it on your doorstep quickly if you are having a predator problem now.
My biggest issue with the camera was the battery usage. It takes 7 or 8 AA batteries and they were almost drained after just a week. So if I was going to purchase one with the cellular plan, I would go with the Spypoint Link-S trail camera with the solar panels for unlimited battery. But of course this one is more expensive.
Has anyone else caught any predators around their duck coop lately? Caught any on a trail camera? Comment below and let me know!! Show us pictures if you have any!
Here’s to a happy predator proof future!
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