Sunday, July 11, 2010

Royal Ranch Royalty...or not!

A relative of my intruder?
(Pic taken in 2006)

There was a fox in the hen house!  Or damn close enough for my liking, let me tell you.  I went up to do my chores the other morning with my daughter in tow as usual, and thankfully had Rosie and Gigi with me like I always do.  
Well, that morning the chicken scraps were particularly yummy for dogs, so I set them up high on the top of the hay stack so that Rosie would not eat them.  As per typical fashion the baby sheep and the rest of the critters were cramming themselves up against the fence where the hay is stored impatiently waiting for their breakfast, when suddenly Rosie pushes past me to growl at my feet.  These vicious little snapping jaws come out from underneath the pallet from where we store the hay, just inches from where my foot had just been and the faces of my beautiful animals!
I freaked out and yelled for Isabella to run and tried to get the dogs away from the snarling and snapping unidentifiable jaws; all the while the llamas, lambs and sheep are still yelling for their breakfast as if nothing at all is happening.  See, I thought it was a badger, which are very mean.  Either way, I was getting the hell out of there!  
A badger

We got the dogs home, and got the live trap that we recently found in the campground.  I thought it through, and realized that whatever it was could really only have two options.  The first being that it was not a well animal and that it had accidentally gotten trapped under there when we went up to feed and might need some help.  The other option was that it was a very well animal and that it was waiting to ambush my chickens when they came out that morning after I did my chores.  It had chosen the perfect spot to do so.  Again, either way, I was not taking any chances.
I prepared the trap the best I could and psyched myself up into going back up there.  Isabella stayed at about the halfway point.  She said it was to keep the cats from going up there, but we both knew it was so she had a straighter shot to the house!  My feet stayed as far away from that hole as I could possibly keep them while I literally threw the hay to my critters, and then I used a looong stick to retrieve the bucket of chicken scraps that I had placed unknowingly above the attackers hiding spot.  
When I set the trap up is when I found out it was a fox, and the damn thing had the audacity to be napping.  Here I was on a total adrenaline buzz, and he's having nap time waiting for my chickens for breakfast!  Needless to say, the chickens stayed locked up that first day.  The fox did not go into the trap, because when it came out from underneath the pallets to have a look around, Isabella taking off for home like a shot, scared him off!
All joking aside though, this could have been very dangerous for me (I don't particularly want a bellyful of shots thank you).  We have talked with a few neighbors since then, and we are a little concerned about this fox being ill and/or aggressive.  It really saddens me, because it is only because people have been feeding the local wildlife that we find ourselves in this predicament.  The foxes are one of the worst up here as far as people being guilty of feeding them.  It's not until the bear shows up for the foxes portion that the people quit, and then the smaller wildlife is already dependent.  
This is something I feel very strongly about, and even touch on in my book.  When I was doing a little bit of research on this fox's behavior, I found a great link on living in red fox country at the Colorado Division of Wildlife.  There is of course a different one for each species ( bear, mountain lion, etc), so take a look around the website, it is quite informative.
Well, although we did not trap him, and have not seen him since that morning, I still feel his presence "hanging around", so I'm afraid we are not quite done with this little guy.  Hopefully I will learn that he is a typical healthy fox that was just after an easy meal, but my gut tells me otherwise...


Mishaun Search said...

Judy, we get these guys occasionally and even though we have chickens ranging everywhere, the healthy foxes will keep their distance. The ones that have been fed by people will come out right in front of us and try to snatch a chicken at our toes! You are right, when people feed these animals it does destroy them because the lose a very important instinct, "caution".

lfhpueblo said...

Yikes, watch out. Don't get bitten. I hope it's a well one and knows how to go off in the forest to get it's own meals and not your chickens.