We have lost 4 hens in the past 6 weeks. Not a huge number in our large yard ranging flock that used to be 25, but since they're pets as well as layers, each loss has been tough to accept. At first we thought it was our cat taking the hens down since minimal meat was harvested each time (always only from the hen's back) AND each time the bodies have been found in the yard, close to the fence. We thought the hens were too heavy for the cat to carry over. Hence, Dupree has had his yard time limited and we've harrassed him any time he's gotten near the hen yard. Yesterday, around 11 am, I heard a ruckus out back and saw something large and grey-ish flying over the hen yard when I opened the back door yelling. The hens eventually came out from their cover and shortly afterward I heard Muffy let out another warning call. The hens raced for cover. Sure enough there was a barred owl in a tree not far from the hen yard. I took out the pellet gun to scare it off. I had no delusion that I would actually hit the owl, but it did make a large noise AND made some racket as the pellet bounced off the tree it DID hit. It did fly off. I am very respectful of wildlife but judging by the rabbit tracks in the front yard, there's no shortage of meals out there for him. Granted, he now knows that our hens are easy picking. I understand that netting would be an ideal cover but I am not sure that we could find any that would adequately protect a 200 x 400 yard AND stay up in the heavy snows we get in upstate NY. Plus, I'm not sure where I could get some TODAY locally! I have been looking at other posts on BYC and saw suggestions for stringing fishing line across open areas. How far apart should we put the lines? Thank you in advance for any assistance.