Jackson County

Jackson County chicken deaths leave mysterious clues

A chicken from the only coop at a house in Jackson County that wasn't attacked looks into an empty coop on Sunday Dec. 27, 2015. Sixteen birds were killed by an unknown attacker on Christmas morning.
A chicken from the only coop at a house in Jackson County that wasn't attacked looks into an empty coop on Sunday Dec. 27, 2015. Sixteen birds were killed by an unknown attacker on Christmas morning. SUN HERALD

JACKSON COUNTY -- It was a bloodbath without the blood and wildlife experts say paw prints left at the scene of the carnage are that of a dog.

The bodies of 14 dead chickens were scattered about five separate enclosures.

Two of the dead were in the yard. Feathers were everywhere.

"It just looked like a massacre. It was horrible," said the chickens' owner, who asked not to be identified.

In the end, 16 chickens were dead. Six more injured, but one of them later died in the owner's arms.

"It was so bad that day. I cried so much."

The carnage occurred early on Christmas morning.

"I cannot believe there was such turmoil and I didn't hear anything."

One coop door was almost ripped off its hinges, wire walls between the coops were pried away from boards. There were paw prints in the mud inside the coops and leading away from the scene of the crime.

Photos of the prints posted on Facebook brought many theories, ranging from black bear to dogs.

The prints are that of a large dog, said Jackie Fleeman, WMA coordinator for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. Fleeman said the photos are of two overlapping paw prints.

"I was scared to go outside if it was a bobcat," the owner said.

"One (chicken) actually looked like she was scared to death." She was found on her back with her talons outstretched.

Only one of the dead had visible injuries.

"It's got to be something that wouldn't eat them, something that just wants to cause havoc."

The family has been raising chickens since 2013, and moved into the house in Jackson County in August.

Their collection was composed of several breeds including Orpingtons, Marans, Silkies, Australorps, Sex Links and Rhode Island reds.

The surviving rooster, a once-beautiful Dominique, was at least starting to eat again. "He just won't crow," said the owner. "He doesn't look good." Another injured bird was unable to stand up.

"What's upsetting is they are all pets." Many were raised from hatchlings.

"It's heartache."

Another attack occurred in late September, when four chickens lost the first day, six more the next. But the culprit -- a large raccoon -- was trapped. "He barely fit in that cage."

That prompted a reinforcing of the coops. One friend compared it to the famed prison, Alcatraz.

The owner vowed to rebuild stronger than ever.

"Nothing ate them, it just killed them."

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