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Flock of 9 sheep killed by coyotes, says Topsfield farmer

Nine sheep were killed by coyotes in Topsfield.

Eugene McKay

Nine sheep were killed by coyotes in Topsfield.

Nine healthy young sheep were killed last weekend in Topsfield, according to livestock owner Eugene McKaywho attributed the loss to hungry packs of coyotes in the area.

McKay, a farmer who owns between 50 and 75 sheep, depending on the season, said he believes about five coyotes invaded his farm on Rowley Bridge Road Sunday night. The coyotes killed nine sheep, eating three of them, McKay said.

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“I lost about four years of time spent breeding these sheep,” McKay said. “These sheep were going to breed for me this November, and now they will be unable to.”

The same sheep that were killed Sunday night gained attention earlier this month when they caused a traffic jam near the farm. A cluster of the sheep parked themselves in the middle of the road in an attempt to avoid a coyote that was apparently stalking them, McKay said.

Topsfield Animal Control Officer Carol Larocque said there seem to be two packs of coyotes in the area. She said it is very likely that one of the packs killed McKay’s sheep Sunday night, but she is surprised that the coyotes would kill nine sheep at once.

“It is amazing that they did such destruction,” Larocque said. “It is not like their food source is short this time of year.”

Larocque said coyote attacks of such scale are uncommon in Topsfield. However, she said, as development continues to intrude on the coyote’s land, it is inevitable they will cause problems for farmers in the area.

Trisha Thadani can be reached at trisha.thadani@globe.com.Follow her on Twitter @TrishaThadani.
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