Relocated raccoons kill pet chicken flock

Emile Rice said the incident took place about six weeks ago

A woman whose flock of chickens was decimated by raccoons believes the culprits were trapped in Ladysmith then released near her home on Shell Beach Road.

Emile Rice said the incident took place about six weeks ago, and that she and her neighbours are devastated by the violent way her ‘pets’ were killed.

She and her family have been raising chickens ‘free-range’ in their yard for years, and have never had a problem.

“They were just my pets,” Rice said. “Everybody used to come down and feed them.”

But in one night the whole flock was killed, including her favourite, a 15 year-old rooster named Big.

She was told later that someone had released a large number of raccoons in the area, and she has since seen raccoons prowling near her property and on the beach, something she’s never seen before.

Rice said she’s not going to start a new flock. “I’m scared to replace them because the raccoons are still here,” she said.

Manager of the Nanaimo BC SPCA Branch Leon Davis said it’s illegal to track and relocate raccoons or other forms of wildlife.

“That’s one of the biggest concerns for us,” he said. “You’re upsetting the wildlife balance of that area.”

Relocated animals can carry diseases; they would not be familiar with food locations in the areas they are transported to; if they’re mothers, they may have young left behind, who would starve; or they might dislocate wildlife already in the area.

The injunction against relocating them would come as little comfort to raccoons, however. The proper procedure with trapped raccoons is euthanization.

Not only is euthanization an outcome some people might find unpalatable, it can also be expensive to do properly and legally. Davis said it could cost between $150 and $200 to properly euthanize a raccoon.

Disregarding the laws around trapping, relocating and euthanizing raccoons can lead to fines and even jail time, he said.

Davis was surprised a large number of raccoons could be trapped and held in captivity for release because raccoons do not take well to being caged.

People who want to keep chickens should ensure they are in a secure, raccoon-proof structure that can be locked at night, he said.

They should also keep the area as clean as possible from scraps and other materials that attract raccoons.