Yesterday, while out getting an awesome picture of Patty, I heard quite the ground squirrel ruckus and immediately gazed upwards to see what was what. About a 100' away from me, a juvenile hawk sat in a tree, trying to figure out the best way to hunt ground squirrels. I'm pretty sure the hawk is a Cooper's hawk (you ornithologists can tell me if I'm wrong).
Whatever he* is, he's beautiful. He was learning how to hunt on his own and, admittedly, it was hard not to cheer for the little colony of ground squirrels. None of us at the sanctuary enjoy the "seedier" side of the natural world. The hawk has to eat, of course.
Amazingly, even though the hawk could take out a full-grown white leghorn hen (who are the size of some of the adult ground squirrels), he showed an absolute disinterest in even flying over the chicken enclosure. I imagine part of that is there are a lot of ground squirrels, I mean A LOT. Both the chickens and ground squirrels also post sentries to monitor both the sky and ground for predators, so both species are on high alert.
The sanctuary residents do share the property with wildlife. Coyotes, bobcat, rattlesnakes, ground squirrels, a kajillion species of birds, mountain lion, deer, wild turkeys - all of them make their appearance from time to time. Fence lines mean nothing to them.
In all the years the sanctuary has been here, very few animals have been lost due to predation. It is a very real risk. Always and forever. We bring to this property species' who have a long history of being killed by other species. Everything we do, we try to mitigate those risks. For the most sensitive species, like the rabbits and poultry, we make sure their enclosures are extra secure, surrounded by predator-proof fencing with overhangs and rollerbars. Fences are dug down into the ground and the chickens/turkeys are always locked up at night (bunnies are in a 1,000 square foot enclosure). Young animals are never introduced until they are large enough to defend themselves.
We will maintain our high level of predator protection when we move all the animals to Grass Valley....which is one of the reasons it is taking a little longer than expected for the move. The fencing is vital in making sure the chickens and rabbits are safe and that all the other species have enough room to roam without going so far as to be really isolated. So we're taking it slow. I'm sure you appreciate that. I know the chickens and turkeys do. :)
*Or she, no offense intended. :)