We often let our chickens free range and then lock them up at night. They enjoy the grass and it helps keep down the bugs around the house. Last week, however, I forgot to close up the chicken coop and a raccoon got in. We lost three of our hens (two of them were our oldest ones, from the very first set of chicks we got) and one 11 week old pullet. The raccoon was able to reach through the hens' coop fence into where the young chickens are (the only part of the coop that isn't covered in wood) and kill her.
This is the part where I realize that we are in their space. The coon was just doing what coons do. We basically brought them dinner and offered it to them on a silver platter. I feel like we've done a pretty fair job of not destroying the habitat of the wildlife that lives here. We haven't taken down any trees or bulldozed anything down. We built our house on the top of the hill where grass won't even grow because all the topsoil has washed down the hill. I will tell you, though. It is on. No more Mr. Nice Guy. The coons have met their match.
As far as the chickens go, they're pretty ticked off that they haven't been allowed to free range for the past week. Until we get a chicken tractor built, they're just going to have to deal with their incarceration in the fence. I'm afraid the raccoons may decide to come earlier than usual or that I'll forget to close up the coop again. I'd rather be safe than sorry.
I love this life...hard lessons and all.