It took a village, and two conservation officers but the juvenile cougars picking off lambs and sheep at Nakusp’s Woolly Hollow farm were trapped and dispatched after at least five deaths.
“I am still heart broken about Xiya, my Babydoll ewe, and struggle not to cry when talking about her,” said farmer Karen Marsden.
She lost Xiya, her nine-week old twins, and seven-day old twins. There is also one ewe who has a festering puncture wound under her wool that was not discovered immediately. Marsden is hopeful.
“I hope she will recover. It has been a difficult time as all lambs had buyers who had paid deposits on these small Heritage breed sheep,” Marsden said.
The ordeal played out publicly on the Facebook page Nakusp Communicator as Marsden was beside herself with suffering animals and unsure what to do. Members of the community offered support and resources, as well as contact information for the Conservation Officers who responded immediately. They arrived with game cameras and set traps to catch the predators.
Marsden said that they were very professional, polite, and took a great deal of time creating the trap that caught both young cougars.
“Contrary to the number of criticisms regarding the Conservation Officers. Both Jason, from Nelson, and Blair, from Castlegar, expressed regret that such beautiful healthy animals needed to be destroyed but knew that the young cats had established an association between domestic animals and a quick and easy food supply.”
Marsden added that they were quick, efficient, and cleaned up the area once each of the cougars had been caught.
Several other people have reported sightings and encounters to the popular Facebook page in recent weeks including Charlotte Ruse, who wrote “The local cougar was just here in my yard trying to get a turkey…. my dogs chased it into the woods but I called them off so they wouldn’t get hurt!” Shawna Lagore discovered a cougar staring at her through the window, “just sitting there grooming itself.” She later found the remains of her cat, Zazoo “That cougar showed no fear of being near a house or me. Only ran when he heard the dogs bark.”
There are reports that an older cougar, possibly the mother, is still in the area. The conservation officers had game cameras set up and Marsden is relieved that there was no evidence of a third cougar at her farm.