When Raccoons Fight
My day started at 1:40 am with growling, hissing, snarling and a noise so eerie it creeped me out. We’re having a problem with a bobcat hanging around. That’s unusual, they’re not normally close to the house until February of bad winters. Bobcat came to mind first as I leaped out of bed and went to the window to listen. “I think the cat got a fawn…” I yelled a couple of times, “Hey!” and temporarily silenced the racket. When it started up again the eerie noise turned to screeching and told me what I needed to know – when raccoons fight they stir up the woodland creatures and the people sleeping 100 feet away.
There’s no tolerance for those nasty little bastards here. They rip heads off chickens, and worse, they rip legs and wings off, eat them and then go back for the second leg or wing. They make the birds suffer horrible deaths while they sit there eating the missing body part.
Normally we let them fight it out and move on but not outside the hen house. We went out with flashlights and a shotgun. They stopped fighting when they heard us. One disappeared into the woods. I heard the second scurry away, get tangled in the electronet fence (it wasn’t on) inside the chicken pen, and then scramble up a choke cherry tree. It’s eyes glowed when I scanned the tree. “There it is.” I kept the light on it with one hand, covered the ear closest to Steve, and he shot it. It came down hard and fast, went through death throes – or so we thought – and then made a guttural moan crossed with a growl. “Not dead,” I said. “I hear it,” Steve said. He put it out of its misery. No matter how cruel they are, there’s no excuse for making them suffer.
I stood with discretion in mind when I took this picture. Leaves block most of the blood. Assuming that you’re here because you’re interested in the reality of the homesteading lifestyle or live this way too, you already know it sometimes involves blood and guts. Seeing it brings a dose of reality to the situation but I don’t think it’s necessary to see this amount of gruesome detail.
The chickens and ducks in the hen house are safer and so are the meat birds and laying chicks that are still over-nighting in the high tunnel. We know there are at least six more raccoons and it won’t be long until the meat birds are in the chicken tractor overnight. We’ll have electric fencing around the tractor, tarps over it, keep it near the bedroom window so we can hear, and will take other measures to keep the birds safe. This is when I miss having an empty covered high tunnel.
Safety is our responsibility. First, we keep our charges as safe as possible without restricting quality of life. Second, we do what we need to do to keep our food supply safe. These birds provide us with meat and eggs. Next spring the ducks will hatch and raise ducklings for us. We’ll eat the drakes and keep the hens for eggs, and when the hens are old and no longer laying, we’ll eat them. The chickens will produce lots of eggs for us. When they stop laying the larger breeds will be turned into soup.
The deer and snowshoe hares were in the food plot last night. It’s unusual, at least the hares are there off and on all night. Raccoons really know how to stir up the forest.
Usually I’m sorry that we’ve killed something but not when it comes to raccoons. When raccoons fight with each other it’s vicious. What they do to our birds is worse.