Monday, September 13, 2010

Cougar That Killed 11 Sheep Shot Dead

By Doug Ward, Vancouver Sun September 11, 2010

A rampaging cougar that slaughtered 11 sheep at a farm near Chilliwack this week was a "large and efficient killing machine" whose blood lust left a conservation officer no choice but to shoot it dead, B.C. Environment Minister Barry Penner said Friday.

"It's not a happy ending," Penner said. "It was unfortunate but necessary to protect other livestock and members of the public. This cougar had demonstrated a proclivity for killing."

The 75-kilogram cougar entered a paddock at the four-hectare farm in the rural Ryder Lake area south of Chilliwack on Tuesday night and killed 10 pregnant ewes and one ram.

Only two of the sheep were eaten by the cougar. The other nine were simply killed and left, said Penner, who is the MLA for the area.

"These animals essentially had their throats torn out. This cougar was very good at what it was doing."

Farm owner Marlene Letkeman was devastated when she discovered her sheep lying on the ground Wednesday morning. "It was pretty traumatizing to see all our babies lying there," Letkeman said.

"It was a terrible loss for us, not just financially but also emotionally because we had those sheep for many years.

"They had their own names and answered to them. They had collars and bells. It's very quiet here now without them."

Letkeman notified a local conservation officer about the killings. One of the dead sheep was used as bait to attract the cougar, which was quickly located Thursday, still on the Letkeman farm.

It took only about two minutes for the conservation officer and his tracking dogs to chase the cougar up a tree.

The officer shot the cougar in the heart, killing him instantly, said Penner, who arrived at the farm in time to hear the shot.

"Conservation officers don't enjoy shooting cougars or bears, but it's something they have to do," he said.

Penner said a conservation officer had told him that the cougar's behaviour was consistent with that of "an aggressive male cougar conducting a march through his territory."

Letkeman said she took no pleasure in the cougar's death.

"I heard the gunshot go off and it just rang off the mountains -- and it just went right through me.

"I knew that animal was dead too and I felt bad. Our sheep didn't deserve to die, and the cougar was just living his life.

"But he crossed boundaries. There are no winners here."

dward@vancouversun.com
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www.bigcatrescue.org

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