An exceptional year for coyotes
HILDEN - A Hilden farmer hopes her trouble with coyotes is over.
"We've had problems in the past but this year is an exceptional year," Maggie Perry told the Truro Daily News yesterday morning after a fifth coyote in three weeks was snared on the family's 300-acre farm.
The family raises lambs on the farm where Perry has lived for the past 30 years. About 20 years ago, it lost 27 lambs and Perry estimates coyotes have killed that many or more this summer, reducing their flock by a third.
There have been many sleepless nights during the summer as the howls of wolves and the cries of lambs rang through the rural setting on Irwin Lake Road.
"You feel hopeless sometimes," said Perry, who has found the dead carcasses in the fields. "There's nothing you can do."
Walking through the fields often gives her an eerie feeling. "I can feel sometimes something is watching me."
The predator, lurking for a quick meal, forced the family to make changes.
"Normally (the lambs) would be feeding off their mothers ... but we've had to move them into the barn and grain feed them," Perry said.
Various people suggested different animals as solutions to keep the coyotes out but they were unsuccessful. They were only one aspect of the suggestions the family received.
"Our fences are up to standard ... (but) they dig a hole under the fence," she said. "We've had everything but nothing works."
About a month ago they contacted Harry Mowatt, a retired Department of Natural Resources employee, who showed them the proper way to set the snares. The family checks the snares regularly and kills the animals that are caught.
"Really and truly this seems to be the only way to go," she said. "If the food supply is good they're going to keep coming and coming."
Perry estimates the family has lost about $7,000 due to the coyote attacks. It has been able to recover some expenses through the province's wildlife compensation program.
"It does help," she said. "They've been great."
Bill MacLeod, the acting chief executive officer for the Nova Scotia Crop and Livestock Insurance Commission, said it had paid out $5,380 for 69 claims for ewes, lambs and rams until the end of August this year. The majority of the deaths were attributed to coyote attacks.
"It's more than last year at this time," he said of the number of claims.
But he cautioned that might be because the program is only in its second year and farmers may be becoming more aware of its existence. While the commission has received calls from across the province, MacLeod said most of the claims were from central Nova Scotia.
A Department of Natural Resources official said it has received about the same amount of phone calls this year regarding coyote attacks.