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Gloucester photographer catches deer in fight for life

This was no game. A Gloucester photographer who was taking his dogs out for a walk caught a life-and-death confrontation between a deer and two hungry coyotes who were trying to hunt it down.

Early one morning in February, Shawn Henry was heading out to take his dogs for a walk. As soon as they reached the steps, the dogs started barking, seeing two coyotes in the road.

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Henry said it’s common to see wild animals in the woods near his home, and he figured once he went inside with the dogs to get their leashes, the commotion would scare off the coyotes.

It didn’t. A deer was now outside near the coyotes, so Henry went back inside and exchanged his dogs for a camera.

Henry shot roughly six minutes of dramatic footage showing a white-tailed deer attempting to fend off the two coyotes, which circled around the deer in a snowy wooded area and on the road.

The coyotes didn’t seem very wily on camera. They could not figure out how to coordinate their attack on the deer, though they did come close. Henry then shut off the camera and “threw some snowballs at the coyotes to leave the deer alone, but that wasn’t successful.”

He returned to his home. Henry shot some more footage of the deer across the street, now in the neighbor’s back yard, and his wife called the animal control office.

The deer was still there, alive, when animal control officers showed up just after 12:30 p.m. and chased it out of the neighborhood. Henry said that as the deer ran away, it was limping on a wounded back leg. Judging by the limp, the wound, and the amount of blood in neighbors’ yards and driveways, the deer hadn’t been completely able to fend off the coyotes.

Henry said this was the first time he had seen an attack like this so close to home.

“There are a lot of both in the area,” he said. “You see coyotes crossing and deer crossing, but never together.”

Lauren Dezenski can be reached at lauren.dezenski@globe.com
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