Posts Tagged ‘raccoon’

My First Hand Encounter with a Predator

Adrenaline is such a rush.  In retrospective, a dramatic encounter last Thursday could have sent me to the hospital!  Let me fill you in and set up the story.

Do you take risks?  I’m pretty much a planner, so I don’t consider myself a risk taker.

With that being said, I’ve ridden on two roller coasters over the past few years including a wooden structure one in Arnolds Park, Iowa, that probably was more of risk than this larger one in Branson, Missouri, last summer.

Roller Coaster

“Wildire” is 120 feet high, covers more than 3,000 feet of track, features five upside down turns and loops, and reaches a top speed of 66 miles-per-hour.

But, as I share the story of what happened last week, it has nothing to do with roller coasters and there was nothing fun about it.

As you know, Ray and I love to work out in the yard and three years ago, we built a fish pond next to the patio in the backyard.

With the fish, the fountain, and the solar lamps changing colors at night, it’s very relaxing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For a year-and-a-half, we had no problems with predators from the ravine.  However, on Thanksgiving 2013, tragedy struck when I discovered that nine-and-a-half of our eleven fish were missing!  It was the one-half of a missing fish that alerted me there was a problem!

There was only one survivor.

Lone Survivor From June 2013

It saddened and made me angry.  I blamed the massacre on raccoons and I hated them, even though it could have been owls, hawks, or other predators.

So, we beefed up our security by putting fence over the pond and replenished the fish.

We now have 18 counting our two new large additions that I named “Snowflake” and “Pumpkin Pie” given to us by our friends Thomas and Mike.

Snowflake Pumpkie Pie

I even started training them to come to the sound of my voice and “Pumpkin Pie”, the orange-spotted black one, will even take food from my hand!

It’s been almost two years since the massacre and we’ve had no trouble with creatures wanting our fish — until Wednesday.

I got home from work around 10 a.m. and was changing clothes and looked down at the pond from the bedroom window.  I saw a dark-colored “squirrel” walking along the foundation of the fish pond.  I didn’t think too much about it since I’ve seen chipmunks and squirrels walking around the pond and birds sitting on the fence.

I knocked on the window to scare it away, but it didn’t budge.  I went out on the patio and it scurried away and I thought, “that wasn’t a squirrel”.  Moments later, it came back across the yard and I scared it into our neighbor’s yard.

At that point, I realized it looked more like a ferret.  However, a quick Google search confirmed to me that it was a mink — just not this one!

Mink

Convinced it was gone, I was sitting at the computer by the open window looking at images and reading about minks.  All of a sudden, I heard a splash and I frantically ran down the stairs to the basement, stormed out onto the patio, and jumped across the fish pond!

I dropped to my knees on the foundation of the pond and the decorative rocks.  I didn’t care that I scraped my knee.  Without thinking, I plunged my hands underneath the dark water and I couldn’t see what I was grabbing for, but I saw a reflection of orange in the sunlight.

I grabbed the mink out of the water and flung it into the air.  It landed with a thud and ran away.  At that moment, I was afraid of what I’d find.

I know that if it had grabbed a fish, it likely would’ve been one of the two larger fish and since I had seen orange in the sunlight, I feared for “Pumpkin Pie”.

I didn’t know if she was dead or injured?  If alive, I didn’t know if it grabbed her face, her tail, or ripped open her body.

I grabbed food and fed them to get them to come to the surface.  They all came, including “Pumpkin Pie” and then I saw the injury.  It had grabbed her right above the tail and there was a flesh wound where it attacked her.

Pumpkin Pie Injury

Luckily, it wasn’t a complete gash, just a bite.

“Pumpkin Pie” is now timid and shy after Thursday’s attack, but she’ll reluctantly come up to eat.  I don’t know what will happen to her wound, but I’m hoping she’ll just have a scar and that it’ll heal without an infection.

I’m optimistic because we use a product in the pond that boasts healing ingredients for wounds.

Pond Care

I know if I had not seen the mink when I first did and scared it away, it would have jumped in the pond right then and there would have been another massacre.  Or, what if the air conditioning was on and the windows were closed?  I would have never heard the splash.

In retrospective, I had the instinct of a parent protecting its young.  I know it’s just a pond fish, but it’s mine and I’ve bonded with the fish.

Now that I now that minks are found in all of Illinois’ counties, that they attack animals larger than them, and how scary they look, I now realize that it could have attack me when I grabbed it!  Look at this thing. (Again, not the one from our pond!)

Mink Mouth

Had I know then what I know now, how would I have reacted?  I hope the same way.  It totally freaks me out now to know what a mink’s mouth looks like!  In retrospective, I’m thinking that it may not have been a raccoon the last time.  Who knows?

On a lighter note, the fortified vault building at Fort Knox in Kentucky is protecting about $337 billion worth of gold.

While our eighteen multi-colored goldfish, including newly acquired “Snowflake” and “Pumpkin Pie”, may not be worth much in monetary value, we’ve fortified the fish pond to protect the babies after last week’s attack.

Fort Fish Pond

I know that a mink is a predator and that’s what it does and I don’t condone hunting just to have an animal head on the wall, if I see that mink back again, I’ll be wearing a pair of new mink gloves this winter.

Sorry, PETA!

Anthony

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Our Back Yard Massacre

It’s Thanksgiving, a day for giving thanks and I find myself very saddened, mad, and agitated.  Tragedy has struck at the “Forthepeople” estate.  And, it’s nothing like “The Moldavian Massacre”, the “Dynasty” cliffhanger from May 1985.

Dynasty-Royal-Wedding_l

When that shooting was over, it was revealed that only two minor characters were among the casualties at Amanda and Prince Michael’s royal wedding.

Our body count is much higher.  There is only one survivor!

Ray and I dug into the ground and made this beautiful fish pond in the spring of 2012.

Happier Day Fish Pond

We stocked it with several colors of “goldfish” and six made it through last winter and this year.  They were getting bigger.

From June 2013

That is a picture from June 2013.

While we live in a ravine, we’ve never had a problem with raccoons bothering our little fish community.

Last month, on my birthday, we were given five large goldfish — two white ones with what looked like diamonds on their side that we named “Razzle” and “Dazzle” and three large orange ones, including “Floater”.

If you recall, he or she is the one that had the swim bladder problem.  Rather than swimming around like the others, it just lied around on the bottom on its side.

Floater

This is me feeding “Floater” peas to try to correct the problem.

A couple of days ago, Ray and I were out at the pond.  He was cleaning the filter and I was clearing out leaves.  I made the comment that it was odd that I didn’t see the fish and he was convinced that they were deep in the pond under the oak leaves and I bought it.

Today, there was no denying reality when I found this.

Fish Carcass

Yes, that’s a graphic picture.  But, really, most of us are eating a turkey carcass today!  The only difference is that the turkey is cooked.

Upon closer inspection, I confirmed that all of our fish are gone, except one.  Here is the survivor in a picture from June 2013.

Lone Survivor From June 2013

As I mentioned before, we’ve never had a raccoon problem and our fish were never threatened.  Now, I know that with “Floater” being a very big, bright, handicapped beacon of vulnerability, it attracted unwanted attention.

There’s a part of me that wishes that someone came into our yard and stole our fish.  Or, what if they were abducted by aliens for experiments?

flying_saucer

It happened on “The X-Files” and “American Horror Story: Asylum”!

Joking aside, I’m very ticked off and sad.  Raccoons are now at the top of my enemy list!

Rest in Peace, my fish, all 12 of you!

Anthony