A cougar attack that killed two lambs in Roberts Creek should cause animal owners to take precautions, conservation officer Dean Miller said this week.
The attack happened at night on Oct. 30 at a hobby farm in the Lockyer Road area.
Miller said it was obvious a cougar was the culprit as the lambs showed no "huge signs of struggle," noting cougars are "highly efficient predators."
"It was fairly consistent with how a cougar would attack under the shelter of night," Miller said.
He said cougars will generally drink the blood of their prey and then leave it on site, returning to feed on it for the next few days.
"So we tell people not to move any preyed upon animal because the cougar could be within 200 metres of that catch," Miller said.
By the time conservation officers arrived at the hobby farm, however, the owner had moved the deceased animals, making it difficult for conservation officers to trap the cougar responsible.
Normally they would set a trap nearby the body and wait for the cougar to return.
"I've tried unsuccessfully to capture the cougar to date, so I assume that by [the owner] moving the sheep, it was probably enough to scare the cougar off," Miller said, noting he would likely destroy the cougar if it was caught.
"If we have a chance to remove a predator like a cougar out of the rural or semi-rural or urban areas we definitely will. It's a process of risk managing wildlife where we're looking at the probabilities of the animal sticking around and going on to kill people's livestock and then those people being exposed to being around a predatory, reactionary cougar," he said.
While the cougar is still in the wild, Miller said it's unlikely a human would be a potential target for the animal.
"A cat that attacks at night and attacks animals that are typically in its prey picture, I don't think there is a big concern," he said.
Miller encourages owners of livestock to put their animals inside a barn or paddock at night. He also said keeping a radio running is a good deterrent for cougars and other predatory animals who don't like to hear the sound of human voices.
He noted electric fences likely won't do much to deter cougars that can leap over them without trouble.
If you encounter a cougar you should pick up any children and small animals that are with you, make yourself look as large as possible and back away slowly without turning your back to the animal.
If the cougar follows, make loud noises and arm yourself with sticks or rocks as weapons. If a cougar attacks, fight back and aim for the cat's eyes and face.
If you are followed by a cougar or come upon an animal that has been attacked by a cougar, be sure to report it to the conservation office by calling the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277 or *7277 on a cell phone.
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