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Conservation-Not Again! By: Kevin Williams, Grundy County Conservation Director

January 30, 2020
Reinbeck Courier
Well a few years ago, April 2015 to be exact, I related a sad story involving my white homing pigeons. I had opened the door to the loft to see all of my snow-white homing pigeons dead on the floor. Heads missing or throats bloodied. I describe enough details here so as to show that I immediately knew the culprit. These had been victims of a weasel. That is their signature attack. I ended the column with how I supposed I should count my blessings that I have not had more attacks of this kind after nearly a lifetime of keeping birds. To my surprise – no, to my shocked horror – I found a similar sight on Monday. What differed is that this time it was in the dove building. Over thirty doves had been killed. As I had described in the column a few years ago, most birds had little or no damage save for some blood on the neck or at most the head removed. Classic weasel killing. Was I angry? Yes. But in all of this, the weasel is only doing what is their very nature to do. There is a frenzy that is set off when they begin to kill and while they may consume a portion of one of the victims, they for the most part waste nearly all save for lapping on the blood. If a raccoon or opossum rips an access into a cage, I can make repairs or strengthen the walls or replace the wire. But in this case, it is nearly impossible to exclude a weasel because little more than a one-inch opening is all that is required if this tiny predator really wants access. The smallest of the weasel species in Iowa is the Least Weasel which is as big around as my thumb and maybe 10 inches max including the tail. With the bitter cold just prior to last week’s attack, I can imagine that the sound of doves cooing inside was too much for him or her to stand. And these tiny critters are difficult to trap. No, difficult isn’t the correct word. More like nearly impossible. Last time this happened, I tried several sticky rat traps but without success. Once they know how to gain access you have to find where they are getting in and address it. In this case, I fear that I made the fatal mistake myself. This fall, I drilled a hole in the side of the building to allow the fat end of an extension cord to pass though it so that I could run a heated water bowl. I have made the necessary blocking of the hole and have my fingers crossed that I am correct that it was the point of entry.



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