An animal has been killing chickens and at least one cat in a rural neighborhood on McKinley west of Highway 99.
Lots of folks in Fresno County have backyard chicken coops, or even pet chickens. And they can become tasty targets for a variety of wild animals.
This backyard has been home to a small flock of chickens for more than 20 years. But their numbers are declining, quickly.
In the past week one chicken a night has been killed by an unknown predator. Their owner, Stella Mange says she is awakened by their screams, which sound almost human.
Action News asked, "You didn't know chickens could scream."
"Not like that," replied Mange. "Not like that I mean they were screaming for their life. It's really heartbreaking because they are like pets to you."
Stella's chickens have free run of the yard. They roost at night in a tree. But whatever is killing them climbs right up. Stella's daughter Debbie says there's usually not much left.
Stella's Daughter, Debbie Hatfield said, "There was feathers, different piles of feathers all through here down the side of the house and the last one that had actual chicken remains, we had to clean up that mess."
Now, it's not just chickens. A neighborhood cat was found ripped apart next door.
In talking to experts we've learned the most likely culprit is a red fox. They are common along the outskirts of the city. With an empty field next to her property, a fox would have easy access to Stella's chickens, and they can climb trees and they like coyotes can kill cats.
Stella is doing what she can she's bought a trap, but so far, the predator hasn't bothered it. She keeps a BB gun ready, in case she sees the culprit. But admits it won't do much. She wants to protect the animals, but feels helpless.
Mange saidm "I feel sorry for them because I'm defenseless I can't do nothing for them."
The Fresno County Agriculture Commissioner's office is responsible for keeping wild animals from commercial poultry and livestock operations. Action News contacted them on Stella's behalf, and they have offered to help.
Red foxes are not native species and can be treated as pests and killed if necessary.