Dave Rempel's birds must be tasty. For the second time in just over a year an unwelcome predator has come to snack on his mix of ducks, geese, swans, and other feathered friends.
According to Rempel, the wild thieves seem to prefer the rarest of the flock.
"I'm nearing $3,000 in damages in birds," he noted of the latest losses.
Back in July 2011, a wild bobcat broke into the east Maple Ridge bird sanctuary. The cat was later caught and relocated, but not until several birds had been killed.
The mystery feline may have come back, or perhaps it was simply another bobcat, but again, it was captured and he was free to return to raising his birds.
"This is the dark side of raising birds out here [in east Maple Ridge]," said Rempel, a local school trustee who lives in Whonnock.
Then, the killing began again.
Last week a mink was responsible for killing Charlene, a black swan Rempel had taken to the Rotary Duck Race earlier this month as part of a display of a number of his birds.
"It was Charlene and a goose beside her," noted Rempel. "It's getting worse. They consistently take the good ones. They never take the junk."
Since the attack on Charlene, there was another breach of the sanctuary that often houses more than 150 birds.
"There was another entry and another eight ducks [killed]," he said.
Of the eight taken, four were rare mandarin ducks, and Rempel had reached his limit of tolerance.
"I was supposed to leave yesterday by air to join my family," he said. He cancelled the flight to stay home and fight the mink. Rempel feels he's closing in.
"I'm getting closer," he said. Rempel has identified where he believes the mink is camped out on his property. He has found remains of his birds trailing towards a shed.
Mink are difficult to eliminate, according to Rempel, as they are "barely the size of a rat, The problem is they can get through [openings] one and a half inches to two inches [in diameter], so it's impossible to keep them out."
He spotted the mink and after trying "everything" to capture it has enlisted the help of licensed trapper, Al Starkey, also of Maple Ridge.
Rempel noted that mink are more of a problem south of the Fraser River. He hasn't had a problem with them in about 12 years, but said, "If mink have moved in, I might as well move out."
Starkey doesn't feel there is much difference in the mink population from north of the Fraser to south.
"They are all over the Lower Mainland," he said. "They kill so many of the wild ducks, including mallards and their eggs. They are awful killers."
According to the bird breeder, formerly domestic mink will hunt to eat, but also for sport, so they must be stopped before they destroy his bird sanctuary.
This point Starkey confirmed by relaying a tale where a mink caught an entire pond of small fish and left them on the shore, dead.
In 2008 about 6,000 mink were released from a fur farm in Aldergrove - and while experts at that time reported little possibility of survival of the animals - Rempel notes a distinct difference.
"Wild mink hunt for food, domestic mink hunt for food and sport," he said.