Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Live Releasing the Raccoon that Killed My Chickens

One morning last week I noticed that my chickens weren't outside when looking out one of my back windows.

I have a secure, well-ventilated coop. Hardware cloth is your friend when keeping chickens. I put a lot of thought and effort into the design and construction of my coop. In three years, nothing has gotten in.

I have an automatic chicken door opener. It works great. It is based off of a light sensor, and opens at sunrise, closes at sunset. Chickens intuitively know to go to safety as darkness approaches, and most predators are nocturnal. They have a run area to keep them confined when I don't want them to free range, but it is not secure, just a barn bay with a livestock gate covered by field fencing. It keeps them in.

Raccoons are smart. And one figured out how to slide my chicken door up along the tracks.

A raccoon killed 8 of my chickens, and severely injured another. She was touch and go for a couple of days, and I was convinced she wasn't going to make it. She seems to be on the mend now.

I have always loved raccoons, found them to be cute and clever. It was personal now, as that particular raccoon was too clever for it's own good.

In my county, one is allowed to dispose of nuisance animals. There are several ways to do this. I chose the humane (and perhaps cowardly) route.

I placed screws above the chicken door, and disengaged the motor. The chicken door cannot currently be opened, and I have to open and close the big door to let them out of a morning, and secure them of an evening.

After the massacre, I placed a live trap right outside the coop, and baited it with cat food that night.

The following morning, this is what I found.

raccoon in a live trap

So cute. But so vicious.

Many people say to kill them. By shooting, by drowning, by gassing them. I am too soft hearted, even though it did kill 8 of my chickens.

I chose to drive several miles away, and release it within my county, which is also legal.

releasing a trapped raccoon

I lined the back of my car with trash bags, and placed the raccoon in the trap back there. I then drove a few miles away, to an area that was entirely crop fields with little patches of woods scattered throughout.

trapping a raccoon johnson county indiana
Hopefully it's first and last car ride. 

Some might disagree with my choice. Some might say I made this raccoon someone else's problem, and trap smart at that. But I am soft hearted.

I released the raccoon. I had to shake the cage after opening it to encourage it to leave.

A post shared by Rebekah (@rebekah_lw) on

I have not seen any evidence of raccoon activity since. I know they are territorial, and that another raccoon may take over this one's territory.

I will be prepared. I have a plan in mind to use the automatic door, but to make it raccoon proof.


  1. I'm so sorry you lost some of your chickens! How did you know it was a raccoon?
    We saw our first fox in the yard since we've gotten our chickens. Luckily I saw it and yelled so the dogs started barking and it ran off. But we'll have to be on watch for it now (it was well before dark). I would always choose to humanely get rid of predators before killing them (or having hubby do it, I never could), but I think we would also do what we have to to protect our flock.
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

  2. I've lost chickens to an owl who was out during full day light. Sorry to hear you had to deal with that. I would have released the racoon too.


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