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darkbrowneggs

Dead fox in chicken run today this afternoon

Hi All - very strange happening here this afternoon

I went to pick some broad beans for tonight's meal at just gone 5, and after about half a bowlful heard the geese sounding off

This morning (being worried about some half grown ducks and ducklings I had on the lawn, and which were venturesomely foraging too far from the house) I had put these duckling in the main pen - which is fenced round with purpose made poultry electric netting.

The geese were annoyed with these new arrivals and had given them a good chasing, and at first I thought they were picking on them again, but when the hens started squawking also I thought I had better check.

Most birds (including cockerel) had headed back towards the barn and housing - pen is around 3/4 acre and has high grass towards middle but some old hens were sounding the alarm and peering at something reddish in the long grass about 15 yds from fencing

In fact a young dead vixen.  It was stiff and not much maggot/fly action.  On closer inspection (with thick rubber gloves) I think it may have been shot, and there was a smear of blood on one flank, and a slight swelling on the opposite flank

My question is - how come it was in the pen in the middle of the day.  The birds have been out since first thing, though it was quite a long way down the pen.

Would an injured young fox jump into a pen and why, or had some airborne scavenger carried it and dropped it.  I do have a pair of ravens and there are sometimes buzzards, though far fewer this year than in the past.

Is my guess it was shot likely to be correct.  I think I might have heard a shot this morning, which is unusual, and it sounded a bit different from the usual 12 bore

I have taken a photo, and put the carcass in a plastic bag for disposal, but I will post a photo later.

All most odd
Sue

PS I have had chucks in chicken electric fencing for many years, and never lost one but I do shut them in securely at night. Now I am worried that foxes could jump over during the day.
Border

If it has been shot with a rifle, there will be an exit hole, which if shot with a  legal rifle,  will be quite large, as well as an entry hole.

Is someone playing a joke on you?

As you say very strange.
Woodsmoke

Odd one, for sure. I guess there's a chance it could've been dropped by something, but it's unlikely I'd say.

As Border says, have a look on the opposite side to where you see the blood.........a legal rifle will have left an unmistakeable exit wound. Something like a .22 probably wouldn't exit, & if it was gutshot or hit in the lungs it could take a while to succumb.......maybe it was running on adrenaline & panic-stricken jumped into the coop? I've seen shot beasts do some funny things sometimes  
darkbrowneggs

Border wrote:
If it has been shot with a rifle, there will be an exit hole, which if shot with a  legal rifle,  will be quite large, as well as an entry hole.

Is someone playing a joke on you?
As you say very strange.


That thought had occurred to me but where I am and where the fox was I think pretty unlikely.  

I didn't notice the smear of blood at first, it was pretty small, and was on its flank towards the back legs, and I turned it over thinking to see an exit hole.  There was a bit more of a bulge there than I would expected but no blood.

All very strange - it did make me smile a bit though the big geese must have found it and set off the alarm, but they were back towards the barn, all the littlies were looking worried, and the cockerel was nearest the pop hole back into the runs.  But there was one very cross hen that was within about 5 or 6 ft and giving the carcass a real telling off.

Once I had examined it I went back to the house for the camera, and when I got back all the birds were just ranging as usual as if to say, well you've checked it out now, so we are all safe, lets get on with some more bug hunting  
darkbrowneggs

Woodsmoke wrote:
Odd one, for sure. I guess there's a chance it could've been dropped by something, but it's unlikely I'd say.

As Border says, have a look on the opposite side to where you see the blood.........a legal rifle will have left an unmistakeable exit wound. Something like a .22 probably wouldn't exit, & if it was gutshot or hit in the lungs it could take a while to succumb.......maybe it was running on adrenaline & panic-stricken jumped into the coop? I've seen shot beasts do some funny things sometimes  


As I say I did hear a single shot sometime in the morning or early afternoon, but probably about half a mile away.  Didn't really take much notice other than it was an odd time of day for a single shot, and from memory didn't sound much like a 12 bore, but I am no real expert.

I suppose it might have just run and jumped the fence, and that was the final effort which finished it, as it was around 15 yds within the fence, which is the higher poultry type. I'm not that squeamish but I don't like handling unknown dead stuff too much so I picked it up (wearing my Marigolds) and popped it in a plastic bag for disposal.  I wasn't all that heavy, but I can't really see a bird of prey bothering to carry it, especially at this time of year when everything is well fledged.

I reckon your idea of it just running blindly is more likely right.  How long does rigor mortis take to come and go.  It was quite stiff, and as I say though it was sunny here there weren't the number of flies I would have expected round it.

Obviously being a poultry keeper I can't afford to be fond of foxes, but all wild creatures are beautiful, sometimes I see one loping across the bottom of the field, and although I swear and curse there is a part of me which admires the grace and beauty, and I would never have one killed unless I really had to

Doubt if I shall ever get to the bottom of the mystery, but I wouldn't mind betting it was one that was trapped in town and released in the wood at the bottom of my hill  

Click to see full size image


Click to see full size image


Click to see full size image
Diz

Could be a ricochet gut wound? Hit, run off and jumped fence in a adrenalin fueled panic. Not nice either way.

Slainte

Diz
darkbrowneggs

Just spoken to the local gamekeeper this morning.  He reckons the likelihood is that the fox was wounded and the bullet had perhaps hit a bone and stayed inside, then unable to hunt,  hunger had driven it to jump the electric fence (after my poultry as an easy meal) but that the jump shifted something inside, and killed it.

As you say not nice, and they are beautiful animals, and it is sad, but if she had got in to one of the runs and killed 20 or so of my young growers, I expect my empathy would have been somewhat dented.

And I shan't let myself get too complacent about having the electric fencing round the pens now, as it is definite proof that a fox can clear (without anything to land on) the highest available electric poultry netting

All the best
Sue
Woodsmoke

He could well be right, Sue. Although, if a bullet of sufficient calibre was used the damage from it even hitting bone would've been enough to seriously incapacitate it. Be that as it may though, I wouldn't worry too much about your hens? Any fox looking for an opportunistic meal won't be wanting to expend too much energy if it has other options, & your netting should  make it difficult enough for them to seek easier prey
darkbrowneggs

Hi Woodsmoke.  Thanks for that - I think you are right, at least I hope you are the gamekeeper said a fox could easily jump in during the day, take a bird and jump out with it, but he did also say that once they had had a zap from an electric fence they tended to keep clear.  And that this one was either desperate or being young hadn't come across an electric fence before.

By the way - I haven't forgotten your stuff,    but I am waiting for someone who can dig the horseradish out for me.  I have a chap who comes to help me but to say he is unreliable would be a bit of and understatement.

The problem is the ground is so hard and dry here, and I broke my right arm earlier in the year, and if I try doing anything strenuous with it I suffer for it after.

Don't worry if all the lovely stuff has gone - that's my fault for being useless, and the horseradish will probably take better now the weather seems to be cooling down a bit.  

All the best
Sue
Woodsmoke

Plenty more lovely stuff available!   I just haven't had the chance to get everything sorted out yet. Soon though, I promise

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