We found a couple of additional game trails with telltale feathers here and there, showing that chickens had been taken that way by predators, and we set some more snares. So far we’ve caught a large raccoon in addition to the previously reported bobcat, and predation seems to be down.
I should mention that I learned predator control partly from the local Federal trapper (courtesy of the USDA-APHIS Wildlife Damage Program), partly from the instructional DVD that came with the Dakotaline Snare Package I bought to get myself started with my own snaring, and partly from Hal Sullivan’s excellent book, Snaring 2000
The latter two products get you up and running very quickly and easily. Catching predators with snares is easier and far more targeted than I thought. This is partly due to changes in snaring technology that have taken place over the past 20 years or so, and partly due to the fact that game trails are laughably easy to identify. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a game trail with chicken feathers on it, that heads straight onto my chicken pasture (through the electric fence), is not the work of an innocent creature.
I only recently started using snares. I used to rely on the Federal trapper. Unfortunately, the Wildlife Damage Service relies on matching funds from the county, and Benton County (in spite of being the home of an agricultural college) is run by clueless city slickers who think that all wildlife is cute and cuddly. Their understanding of rural issues is still at the Little Golden Book level.
In general, if you have a farm, you want to live in a rural county, where county government is run by farmers, since they know what’s what in the country. Ideally, you would be in a rural county that’s adjacent to an urban one, thus giving you a city market without having to put up with city cluelessness.