Over the holidays

Over the holidays

Valley resident’s goats killed by cougar near Nelson

A Vallican resident lost four of his goats to a cougar over the holidays.

A Vallican resident lost four of his goats to a cougar over the holidays.

Troy Paulett discovered the cougar when he went out to his barn on the morning of December 27 to feed some hay and check on the water tank. He fired up his truck and hopped out, only to see the large cat.

“I took a double take as it was still quite dark,” said Paulett. “The cat froze when my big dog appeared.”

The man and his dog made some noise and treed the cougar that “was very, very angry,” said Paulett who ran back to his house to retrieve a weapon.

“Upon returning it was no longer treed.”

Fresh snow made it possible for Paulette to track the animal that had left his property. The man then left for work and when he returned home later that day, he called the conservation officer. The cougar was staying close.

“I saw the cougar again that evening,” he said. “It was sticking around as he had only eaten half of a young goat but had broken the necks of the other three.”

Saturday morning the conservation officer came with dogs to track the animal further finding where it had been bedding down. The cougar was treed and the officer killed it.

The conservation officer told Paulett the cougar was likely a two- to three-years-old male weighing in at 130 to 140 pounds.

“He looked a little bigger to me though,” teased Paulett. It was his first time seeing a cougar.

Paulett has lived in the Vallican area for three years and has raised goats during that time with no problems. Paulett misses his goats and has plans to get more animals. He is also considering a second dog to help protect the herd.

“I am surprised my dog didn’t find it in the night, but I am also glad as my dog would not have won,” he said.

Anecdotal evidence from area farmers suggests that cougar attacks are on the rise possibly due to a lower deer population.

Farmer Jim Ross describes the animals as having “amazing power and determination” able to drag large kill uphill. Another farmer reports losing a four-year-old pregnant ewe to a cougar two years ago. The cougar was able to take the sheep over a six-foot fence.