Weasels and mink have a wide distribution and are effective predators. The weasel is small and capable of sneaking through rodent size holes. At only a few ounces in weight and roughly 8 inches in length, the weasel eats around four times its body weight daily. Weasels will wrap themselves around a chicken and kill the chicken with a strong bite to the base of the head.
Range and Identification
Weasels are present throughout the United States and Canada but they are especially concentrated in the Midwest, Southwest and Northwest regions of the United States. Weasels are not often seen but they are easily identified by their tracks. Mink often follow river systems where they prey on fish and small animals. Monitor your chicken coop area for tracks that have four digits spaced ahead of a paw. The entire track is less than 1 inch wide. The weasel itself is a slender animal with a long tail and four legs and looks similar to a domestic ferret. Weasel kills are identified by severed heads and severe wounds to the back of the neck.
Fortify your coop to block weasels from entry. Add hardware cloth to the run and any openings on the coop. Chicken wire is not adequate protection against weasels. Heavy gauge hardware cloth will block entry when chicken wire fails. Also cover any small holes and gaps in your coop. Rodent size holes are ample for weasels and must be closed off. Set rodent traps and clean up spilled food to prevent future rodent holes from developing. Weasels hunt during the day and night. Avoid letting chickens out to free range if you have a weasel problem.
Set a No. 0 leg trap to catch a weasel. Drag a piece of fresh meat around the trap and bait the trap with the meat. Cover the trap with a box that has a several inch gap in one corner and an exit hole for the weasel. The safety of the entrance and exit will encourage the weasel to enter your trap.
Hire a professional if you are unfamiliar with trapping. Improper setting may catch unintended targets in domestic areas. Trapping is illegal in many populated areas.
Use a small Havahart trap to catch your weasel without any harm. Set the trap near your coop and bait it with fresh meat. Cover the trap with a cloth or natural sticks and foliage to disguise its presence. Contact your local animal control agency after the weasel is contained for relocation.
Zach Lazzari is a Montana based freelance outdoor writer and photographer. You can follow his work at bustedoarlock.com.