Last year was a very stressful year when it came to keeping fish in our pond. We had two predators visit that we’ve never seen before at our pond. One of them was a mink that showed up the day after Thanksgiving. Thankfully, the pond wasn’t frozen over yet and I noticed that several of our large koi were missing. It’s hard not to notice when missing several two and a half foot colorful fish. We did find one of them half eaten underneath our artificial rock that houses our pump so we knew it was something that was carrying them out of the pond. The only reason we thought it might be a mink is because we had spotted it the day before in our swimming pool. We knew if we didn’t get the mink away from our pond he would continue coming back until he had wiped out all of our fish. Even if the pond had frozen over the mink would’ve found his way in through the hole in the ice so it’s actually fortunate that it hadn’t frozen over otherwise I would not have known until spring that the mink had been attacking our fish. Don’t be fooled into thinking if your pond freezes over it will stop them from hunting your fish. Another thing we learned is that minks will travel miles in search of food so their hunting territory is large. We learned this from a trapper after a friend of ours suggested calling him to get rid of the mink. He set the trap and within two weeks he got him and as you can imagine he turned out to be a very well fed mink. That was our late fall visiting predator.
Even though it doesn’t feel like spring it hasn’t stopped the other of our predators from coming back to town. Herons have been spotted in the area again and will be scoping out their territory looking for sources of food. Unfortunately, I had my first encounter with a heron attacking my fish last year. That’s pretty good since I’ve had my pond for about 20 years. However, it didn’t make me feel any better as I looked out my window and spotted something orange on the patio next to my pond. I was completely upset and shocked to see one of my favorite Koi lying there. The heron must have been scared away and dropped the koi because except for one puncture wound it was intact. Until I could come up with a better solution, I immediately covered my pond with netting making sure that it was not lying directly on the pond so the heron could not get his long beak through the net. The next morning after coming back from my morning walk, I spotted the Heron sitting on my roof eyeing the pond. As soon as it saw me it immediately flew away and that happened several more times. He would show up early in the morning to go fishing. Fortunately, after a couple of weeks the Heron must have gotten frustrated or found another fishing hole.
What are some of the others things we could have done to prevent the Heron from attacking? We could have used a Scarecrow that is activated by movement or placed a floating alligator head on the pond. Beware of pond predators and don’t think they’ll give up after one fishing expedition.