James Young successfully raised his first flock of domestic turkeys last year at his home in Los Gatos, California. Earlier this April, he started the journey towards rearing flock number two. His plan was to butcher the first bird in October—it would be their Thanksgiving meal. But the night before Young was set to slaughter, something beat him to it.
“Every turkey was killed,” Young said. “Something broke the zip ties on the deer fencing and slipped through a gap that looked just big enough to fit a small dog. I thought for sure it was a raccoon or skunk or coyote.”
Young wanted intel on how the varmint compromised the coop, so he set a trail cam with hopes of the critter returning. It did the very next night.
“We know cats are here—I ran into one picking chanterelles back in December,” Young said. “But I just didn’t think it would be a mountain lion. I was pretty shocked.”
The mother and her cubs used the same method of entry from the night before. They arrived shortly before midnight and hung around the coop well into morning. Young’s trail cam captures them feasting, bathing, and napping among the massacred flock for over six hours.
“I’ve raised a lot of chickens and have had a few get picked off,” Young said. “Usually it’s raccoons or bobcats. Each time after I take an additional measure of fortification to keep it from happening again.”
Young is already thinking about how to shore up his coop for round three of turkey poults in 2021. The first change will be going from deer mesh to wire mesh. As for the mountain lions, he holds no ill will for the fellow MeatEaters.
“They were just being cats,” Young said. “I don’t like losing all my turkeys, but they beat me fair and square this year.”