Trinity Mountain Homestead

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The Bear and the Turkeys… Not a Love Story….

California Black Bear

Last Saturday morning I noticed that the turkeys were somehow miraculously out of their pen and huddled around the outside of the hen-house.  “Uh oh, his is not good” I thought to myself as I ran for the door screaming “come on, the turkeys are out” in the general direction of my half awake wife.  We sprinted down the hill toward the tightly packed flock of turkeys to discover that their pen had been ripped apart and two of the twelve turkeys were missing.  

The claws of a black bear

Only a bear could have inflicted the level of destruction and mayhem that we found.  

Our turkey pen is a ten by ten foot by six-foot high covered heavy steel structure.  On the outside there is (was) a three-foot high covering of fine mesh rabbit wire to keep skunks and raccoons out.  Surrounding that is (was) a six-foot high heavy shade cloth to block the wind and direct sun.  All of the rabbit wire and shade cloth are now shredded and on the ground.  The heavy steel latching system that held the gate closed was twisted outward  ninety degrees and the gate was wide open.  Domestic turkeys are not known for their intelligence.  These birds casually walked back to their pen and strolled inside like nothing had happened.

I grabbed a  heavy caliber rifle and set out in search of Mr. or Mrs. Bear.   I followed our western fence line and saw where the bear had tried unsuccessfully to pull the two thirty-five pound turkeys through the four-inch holes in the wire fence and finally carried them over the fence.  I tracked a trail of blood and feathers down the side of the ridge and through the buck brush and oak trees to a small clearing where the bear consumed his ill-gotten booty.  All that was left were feathers, a few bone fragments and about a five-pound mound of what bears are reputed to do in the woods.

After waiting up for several nights for the bear to return for round two, i called the department of Fish and Game and was issued a depredation permit. The next night my friend and I sat up on a hill about sixty yards away and waited all night with rifle and shotgun in hand.  The turkey thief never came.  At this point we have hung cow bells all over the compound and have a baby monitor outside in hopes that if it returns for a second helping of turkey we’ll hear it and can inspire Mr. or Mrs. Bear to take a dirt nap.

I’ll  let you know if/when it comes back and what the outcome (if any) is.


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4 thoughts on “The Bear and the Turkeys… Not a Love Story….

  1. Good luck! There’s a point in time where you gotta protect what’s yours… bummer for the bear, but if they won’t stay away, they won’t ever stay away and they are very dangerous….

    • We just hope that we stop him before he does anymore damage or kills anymore of our livestock. We are also in the process of installing an 8000 volt hot wire around the top of our perimeter fence. Fish & Game thinks that will keep it out. I sure hope so. We’re only a few weeks from butchering time and we’ve got a sizable investment in those birds.

  2. Make sure you train the bears to the fence. As a beekeeper I use a 5-strand electric fence to keep out bears and varmints from the bee yard. You need to clip little pieces of bacon to the wire, or rub the wire periodically with leftover grease drippings – or clip cans of sardines or catfood to the wires. The bears are attracted to the scent, and sniff the food, thus touching the electrified wire/food with their nose, the most sensitive part of their body. It trains them to stay away.

    I put tape flags on my wires as a visual aid (kind of like the flags one would stick in the ground when training the family dog with the underground fence/electrified collar thingy), and also so the deer can see the wire. A running/fleeing/jumping deer will wreck your fence.

    Good luck – hope you get ‘em!

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