This is the eighth in our series regarding raising pheasants.
Cute and fluffy though they may look on your evening wildlife program most predators are in fact a complete nuisance. All they are really after is getting into your pen and devouring your hard work and money. Foxes are the worst of all of these creatures and the biggest threat to poults and pheasants.
electric fence that keeps the poults safe and must be maintained
As you are raising pheasants you must keep an eye on the local foxes as they will kill dozens of birds in one go if they can. It is therefore very important to keep the number of foxes in the area down and this can be done these days by a number of ways. First of all is the electric fence that keeps the poults safe and must be maintained around your release pen.
You will have to put two or three wires attached to a car battery around the entire site, attach these to posts and ensure that the undergrowth cannot grow up and short out the wire. Spraying herbicide under the electric fence is a good way of keeping the undergrowth down as you did with your brooding pens and your weather run. It is a minor shock on the nose of the fox but will keep him away for a while.
involves turning on a bright lamp which startles the fox; a bit similar to how rabbits and deer get ‘caught in the headlights’
Foxes will lie in wait waiting for birds to fly from the release pen. This is why you must keep the vegetation down for eight metres all around the perimeter. However once the birds have got to this stage in their wing development they are therefore occasionally able to make their escape.
The main way that fox numbers are kept down is by shooting; snaring or trapping. Shooting is done at night in a form called ‘lamping’. This involves turning on a bright lamp which startles the fox; a bit similar to how rabbits and deer get ‘caught in the headlights’.
As long as there are a number of syndicates around all active on their fox thinning foxes should not really be a problem. If you are syndicate operating on your own with no other shoots around this could become larger problem for you while raising pheasants and you will have your work cut out.
he will do anything he can to get a free meal
Most foxes these days live in towns and cities and the country fox is a rarer sight. That does not mean he is not coming for your pheasants and he will do anything he can to get a free meal.
Mink and feral ferrets (rare) are the worst of the bunch. The mink is not native to Great Britain and was imported from North America 50-100 years ago for fur farming (now banned) the creatures have escaped and found a welcome home. A mink will kill anything that moves and it would happily keep killing and killing in your pen until all the birds are dead.
normally follow watercourses streams and rivers
To deal with them you must set tunnel traps and cage traps around the release pen and at local water courses. Because they are cunning and small they are able to get through your fence and into the release pen they can also do this quite easily through the fox grid.
The only way to deal with them is by trapping. They normally follow watercourses streams and rivers and you can catch them by using cage traps attached to a plank of wood which ford the stream. Mink love fish and anything like cat food or fish carcasses will lure them to your trap.
Birds of prey most are protected by law and it is illegal to shoot; snare, trap or poison them. Such activity used to be common at the end of the 19th century but pheasant shoots have learnt to live with this predator. Having said that anything you can do to deter them from your release pen is ideal.
nearby owls think they are invading another owls territory and stay well away
Owls can be deterred with fake plastic dummy in place nearby owls think they are invading another owls territory and stay well away.
Badges are not a risk to your pheasants so there is no need in trying to deal with these and the same is goes with moles. However you will want deal with weasels as weasels can use moles’ tunnels to enter into your release pen.
Rats can be a real pain and it is up to you to make sure there is not much loose food lying around for them. Make sure when you stock feed you do so in sealed containers. Most rats can be dealt either with traps; poison or an air rifle.
If you were to set your release pen near a regular walkway it is unlikely you will have many birds left after a few weeks
Dogs can be a pretty bad creature to have around your pen. There is a reason we use dogs for flushing birds. Pheasants are terrified of them so this is another reason to make sure your pen is located well away from the public and public footpaths. If you were to set your release pen near a regular walkway it is unlikely you will have many birds left after a few weeks as they will have departed from the constant barking and chasing of these nuisances.
They only see food wrapped in cellophane at the local supermarket
With that we come to people; people can be a real pain especially the non-country types. Many Country Villages and Hamlets have been invaded by the second homeowner who knows little of country ways. They only see food wrapped in cellophane at the local supermarket and so spare no thought that it comes from an actual living creature.
Recently we have had problems with various groups freeing pheasants, unfortunately their ignorance comes ‘home to roost’ when they realise that the pheasants are only alive because there are fed and reared agriculturally! Keeping a good relationship with your neighbours and ensuring your shoot is located well out of the way is the best way to deal with this ruthless and aggressive top predator!