Big, crafty raccoon eating rare chickens, ducks, peacocks

Jul 6, 2011

WALLA WALLA – Walla Walla park officials are certain the predator that has killed about two dozen birds at the Pioneer Park Aviary is a big raccoon.

A motion detector camera showed the raccoon stealing bait from a trap.

Walla Walla trapper Leo Pauly, who is licensed to capture pest animals, thinks it's an urban raccoon – not afraid of people.

The Union-Bulletin reports the raccoon has been raiding the aviary since April, killing and eating rare chickens, ducks, geese and peacocks.

Caretaker Joanna Lanning says the last break-in was Sunday but no birds were killed. She's been repairing fences and nets to keep the raccoon out.

The predator attacks have been disrupting nesting and stressing the birds. About 130 remain in the aviary, which is conducting a fundraising drive for a renovation.

On the web

Because raccoons are so plentiful and widespread in the state, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says it doesn't even try to track human encounters with the mischievous critter. The department did, however,  create very thorough Web pages and fact sheets for living with raccoons.