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January 10, 2014

Living with predators

Newburyport naturalist to lead tracking session after coyote talk

(Continued)

The New England woods are different now than in our grandparents’ time, she said, when there were neither coyotes nor wolves to worry about.

“For an entire generation people grazed sheep and hunted without any worry about that kind of predator,” she said. “Those days are gone.”

Schadler, who has raised sheep in New Hampshire for decades without losing any to predators, said one key to living with coyotes is understanding their reproductive cycles.

“The harder they are hunted, the faster and younger they will reproduce,” she said. “We can live with these predators because people always have, but we need to be vigilant to protect what cannot protect itself against these predators. Our dogs and cats must be protected, our livestock must be protected.”

Managing habitats — rather than killing coyotes — is the way to do that, she said. Deer populations can be protected, for example, by “ensuring good habitat, having good browse,” she said.

In areas where coyotes are not heavily hunted, their populations stabilize and they don’t pose a significant threat to deer populations, she said.

“Deer continue to be a small part of coyotes’ diets,” she said. “Where they prey on livestock, if you analyze their scat, it still shows most of what they’re eating is natural prey — and their natural prey are small mammals and rodents.”

If you go

What: “The Eastern Coyote in New England”

When: Tomorrow, 10 to 11 a.m.

Cost: $10 ($8 members), advance registration required

What: “Tracking Predators on Averill’s Island”

When: Tomorrow, 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Cost: $39 ($33 members), advance registration required; limited to 15

More information: Both programs take place at the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, 87 Perkins Row, Topsfield. To register, call 978-887-9264 or visit www.massaudubon.org/ipswichriver

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