Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bear Attack Kills Two Chickens

Early Tuesday morning I took one step outside and saw this.  Sometime during the night, the side of our chicken house had been ripped off. 

Right away I knew it was bears.   A mother bear and two cubs have been in the area for weeks now.  Sunday night they were in a yard up our street and attracted the attention of the police, animal control and a helicopter.   On Monday morning, which is our trash pick up, they upended our trash cans and those of many up and down the street.    

As I put on my shoes, I was stunned, mad and sad all at the same time.  I knew we had lost chickens and I knew the bears had gotten them.   I walked to the hen house and saw a mass of feathers inside.   And the nesting boxes I made had been broken apart.   It was not hard to envision what had happened.    

I counted five chickens.   All were intact and looked fine.   Two of our flock were missing.   

I walked the yard and quickly found the remains of our two hens.    One hen, dubbed Speedy by our daughter, had been eaten no more than 20 feet from our back door.   The other hen, a pretty buff and white feathered chicken, had been taken to the front of the yard.   Very little was left of either bird.

I also saw plenty of other bear evidence -- two piles of bear poop, a broken fence and punctured volleyball.  

Though we live in the City of Pasadena, we're no strangers to wildlife.  I've devoted more space on this blog to wildlife than anything else for the simple reason that I'm amazed by it.   It is fascinating to see a hawk, coyote or bear in real life. 

Until now, I've thought we coexisted reasonably well with the wildlife.  But, the bears present an unusual challenge.  They're just so big and strong.   Coyotes can be fenced out. But, bears -- they go where they want and do what they want, including breaking through fences and ripping the siding off a chicken coop.        

I have to admit they're wearing on me.   I can deal with the trash barrels.    I don't like it, but I can fix a fence or two.   But, I hate losing our chickens. 


As I post this, I'm not sure what we're going to do.  We hear from others that bears are still in the neighborhood.   As things stand, we have no way to stop them from breaking into the coop again.   And, if we left our remaining chickens in the coop, the bears would certainly return for more.   So, while we figure things out, we've temporarily  relocated our chickens to another home.


Adele said...

Oh, that just makes me sad. I'm so sorry that happened to you guys. It must be a very helpless feeling. Like you said, the Coyotes can be fenced out, but the bears? That's a tough one.

Petrea Burchard said...

It is a tough one. The bears have as much right to be there as you and your chickens do, and I know you of all people are aware of that. And they don't know they're violating anything--they're not, actually. So how do we coexist with bears? Maybe chickens aren't the thing. I don't know. Since the Station Fire the animals have all gotten closer to the city. At first they had to, now they're just more used to it.

Michael Coppess said...

Thanks for the comments, Adele and Petrea. I'll agree with you both on this -- it is a tough one. But, I'm not sure we will agree beyond that. A small number of black bears were introduced into our local mountains in the '30's and I'm sure no one dreamed their descendants would someday destroy private property and kill domestic animals. I'm thinking there is a balance of measures we need to pursue that respects the bears and our property too. I'm looking at our options and will post what I find.

John Evans said...

Pasadena?? This sounds like Curry Village in Yosemite.

The bears have plenty of elbow room in the mountains. I hope you find a solution that will allow you to raise chickens as you please.

Adele said...

That's really interesting about the bears being introduced in the 1930's. I do know that letting the bears hang around can end up in disaster for them as well. Bears who become habituated to human food and start becoming more bold and dangerous can sometimes be hard to relocate, because they just keep returning to the "scene of the crime," and can ultimately be destroyed (at least that's the way it is in the Sequoias). So, it would be good for the bears too, if they could somehow be enticed to move back up into the mountains. The whole thing is scary and sad, for the bears and for the humans. Best of luck finding the balance you are looking for. I'm rooting for you!

Ann Erdman said...

I'm sorry this happened. I think you were smart to relocate the chickens. With the Angeles National Forest surrounding three sides of the northern Pasadena city limits, this kind of incident is inevitable.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Never name an animal. It's the beginning of attachment.

Maybe you ca hire one of those dogs and handlers who scare the B Jesus out bears, running them back into the woods. I'm afraid chickens are an attractive nuisance where your located.

jjackflash said...

Hi Michael, I'm a Pasadena resident and a semi-regular visitor to your blog, which I find interesting and informative.

Have you looked into possibly rigging some kind of alarm system? When I was a kid, I used to go backpacking in the Sierras and had to "bear-proof" our food. We'd string it up in a tree along with some metal pots & pans that would make a clatter if disturbed. I was taught that if one encountered a bear, the best approach was to make a lot of noise & commotion and the bear would leave. Perhaps there is some combination of lights/sirens/etc. that could be rigged to go off if a bear came into contact with your coop.

Oh, and sorry for your loss.

Cafe Pasadena said...

I'm sorry for the stress this has caused you.
Chicken is very popular with us humans. Just look at restaurant menus for evidence. No doubt bears have taken notice of our eating habits.

I'm sure the American settlers of the Pasadena area from the midwest/fareast looked at our surrounding mtns with its habitat and thought: "and besides weather, we have a good food supply for hunting! Come West!!"

It's still a bit of the Wild Wild West out here.

Kristin said...

So sad. As a chicken-owner and fellow Pasadenan, I feel your pain. I have only five lovely hens, and I dread predators. Is there any way you can bear-proof your coop? Steel and chain-link, maybe? And where in Pasadena is this bear frequenting?