June 07, 2016 - 8:00 PM
VERNON - Hobby farmers and pet owners in the North Okanagan are being reminded to take precautions after a cougar killed three goats earlier this week near Swan Lake.
The night of Sunday, June 5, a cougar attacked three goats in a residential area northeast of Swan Lake, conservation officer Terry Myroniuk says.
“The owner of the goats actually observed the cougar carrying one of the goats off,” he says.
There were also sightings of a cougar around a nearby elementary school during May, and it’s possible it’s the same animal, Myroniuk says.
Traps have been set by the conservation service and Myroniuk says they have no choice but to put the animal down.
“Unfortunately when they have actually switched their prey pattern from deer to livestock, they will have a tendency to focus their efforts more on livestock as a food source. They also associate livestock to being around people, so it will also keep bringing them into the community,” Myroniuk says.
Relocating cougars is challenging because they try to return to their original territories, and if they are habituated to preying upon pets and livestock, they are likely to continue that pattern wherever they are.
“Prevention is the key here,” Myroniuk says. “We’re asking people to protect their pets and livestock and keep them inside or in an enclosed shed at night. It’s the best thing to preventing problems with cougars.”
He says the goats in this particular case were left out in the open overnight, and believes the encounter could have been prevented.
“People need to take responsibility and protect their own animals,” he says. “A lot of hobby farmers maybe don’t expect that close to town like that there are cougars. A lot of the conflicts are people who maybe have not fully appreciated the potential threat.”
In addition to keeping pets and livestock secured, the conservation service is also reminding parents to educate their children on what to do if they see a cougar.
Another thing to remember is that cougars are attracted to deer.
“So, people that are feeding deer or attracting deer to their properties are increasing the risk,” Myroniuk says. “It’s not a good idea to feed any wildlife.”
To report a human-wildlife conflict, call the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line toll free at 1 877 952-7277 (RAPP), or visit the RAPP website.
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