A woman has told of her shock and surprise after a wild mink got to her pet chickens and terrorised them to death.
Devastated Katrina Menary, of Dorrington, is now warning other local poultry owners to make sure to protect their stocks after the unexpected attack.
Upset Mrs Menary said: “They were such friendly birds. They came into the house and would sit on your lap. It is quite upsetting for the children. I will have more chickens eventually but don’t want to go through that again.”
The self-employed dog groomer has put a warning on Facebook to other owners and told The Standard: “My first thought was, there are a lot more chicken owners in the village and children with rabbits and guinea pigs.”
The two chickens had been passed on to Mrs Menary in April as her first venture into poultry having always wanted to own some.
The pair were a Rhode Island Red, called Red, and a blue Orpington, called Blue which she kept for their eggs and as pets.
She said: “The chickens were free range and would come into their coop at night into the stables, but have not been allowed out since the avian flu outbreak.”
As a result, the birds had no means of escape from the predator.
She said: “I have lived in the country many years and foxes have been seen in the fields, but I didn’t think of mink and I thought the chickens were safely locked away at night.”
She opened the top of the stable door on Christmas morning but was greeted by an unusual silence. She went on: “They were not waiting by the door and were nowhere to be seen. Then I noticed one was not moving underneath the quad bike and heard a rustle coming from a box and it frightened me. I ran in and got my husband and shut him in the stable to see if he could find the other chicken.”
She described how the dark brown animal, like a large ferret, with a white bib and a strong musty smell, tried to escape around the edge of the stable through a gap in the door where it must have got in.
They chased it for a few ‘scary’ minutes before it managed to make a break for it. They found the other dead chicken wedged against the lawnmower.
Mrs Menary, who could not see any injuries to either bird, suspected they had both been chased to death and the mink had been disturbed.
Mink first arrived in the UK in the 1950s, imported from America to be farmed for their fur. But after some escaped – or were released – they have spread around the country, and scientists estimate there are now tens of thousands throughout the UK.