Gardiner is full of wild animals roaming about. I say it all the time, “it really is wild kingdom out here.”
For most of us, with the exception of roadkill, an animal sighting is a thrilling event, especially if it is from the comfort of our homes. However, for the property owner with a flock of free-ranging guinea fowl or chickens, not so much.
The following is a tragic, true story of how, in the course of one fall weekend, a bear invaded a heavily protected, locked coop, ate three guinea fowl, and left a 5-star rating–in the form of a steaming pile of bear scat–right outside the coop, influencing a local fox to try out the cuisine, while a three foot timber rattler ventured closer to the action from the drainage ditch just to lose his head, literally, to a passing car:
Building things well is a way of life at our small, backyard, poultry, micro-farm. The coop we built is a two-room affair, so big we could rent it out as an Air BnB. It’s built to last just like a human house but with a large wired-in enclosure attached.
To keep the birds safe from mid-level predators (i.e., foxes, coyotes, fisher cats) we framed the bottom of the enclosure with two by twelve planks and set them twelve inches below ground to prevent critters from digging their way in. We then topped all that off with two by four framing covered with two layers of chicken wire plus a three foot by four foot swinging door on steel hinges with a locking latch.
When it was completed, we thought, “Nothing will get in there,” and we were happy….for a time…and then the BEAR came.
The evidence that it was a bear was clear—I mean REALLY clear. In fact, it was as if the bear were a serial killer, an ursine Son of Sam, leaving intentional clues as to its identity and killing process: Clue #1 was the dismembered carcasses strewn about. Clue #2 was the gaping two-foot hole punched in at the top of the roof; that meant our perpetrator had to be really strong in order to punch through shingles and half-inch plywood, and our perp also had to be BIG, in fact, too big to fit his fat butt between the sixteen inch on-center rafters to gain entry.
Clue #3 was the door, which had been ripped off its hinges and thrown aside, and Clue #4 was the still steaming pile of bear scat, left right on the demolished door which left no doubt as to the species that performed this violent coop invasion.
Together, these clues left no doubt as to the killer’s modus operandi: Clearly, our perp rolled up on the coop, spotted the guinea fowl roosting in the wire enclosure, climbed up on the roof, tried to enter there but was foiled by its own fatness, and in a fit of pique, climbed down, ripped the door off its hinges, committed its heinous act and left its steaming scat calling card.
There was nothing left to do but patch the roof, reinforce the entire opening to the enclosure with thick plywood, and bury the dead.
You’d think that would be the end of it, but no-o-o-o. The very next day, Mr. Fox, who may have witnessed the murder and been inspired by it, a copy-bear killer if you will, came out of nowhere and BAM, another guinea bit the dust.
Later that same day a three foot timber rattler was found with its head smooshed in the road. Was it coming for its share? Were they all in cahoots? We’ll never know.