The cougar that killed a pregnant goat in east Maple Ridge has been captured and killed, but conservation officers still are keeping an eye on the area.
The goat was killed Monday afternoon, prompting officers to set up their traps around the farm near 288th Street in the expectation that the cat would return for another meal.
The cougar, a female, did return Wednesday morning and was trapped, then shot by officers.
“We’re going to monitor closely,” said conservation officer Todd Hunter.
The cougar is the second to have been shot in the area in as many months. Two months ago, a large male cougar was taken out on a nearby property.
Hunter said the situation involving the previous male cougar was unsafe because it was getting close to people.
“That thing was large. It was extremely dangerous. It was absolutely necessary that we be engaged to remove the animal and deal with the attractants on that property,” he added.
“We made it definitely safe around there for those people.”
Hunter said an animal that becomes habituated to eating livestock raises the risk to people.
And once a cougar tastes an easy meal, such as a goat or chickens, it’s going to return for another meal.
“Once they have learned that type of behaviour, they’re going to come back,” Hunter said.
While many people criticize officers for shooting an animal, relocating a cougar that’s hanging around farm yards and killing livestock and threatening people isn’t possible, he explained.
Relocating a cougar often means moving it into another cougar’s territory – which means one will inevitably kill the other.
“It’s extremely unsafe moving cougars. We only, very rarely, move cougars. They don’t tolerate each other.”
Both cougars and bears will kill the offspring of another female they encounter, then mate with that female.
“That’s life at the top of the food chain in the wild, that’s what they do.”
Hunter said both property owners involved have shown cooperation in tightening up security and the conservation service is grateful for it.
The current hot spell makes it tough on the cats because the prey they usually hunt isn’t moving around as much.
“It’s hot and dry. People need to be vigilant. This is when cougars are stressed. Arm yourself with knowledge, and with knowledge comes respect and understanding on how to prevent an issue in the first place,” Hunter said.
He stressed that discouraging small animals from coming on to your property, such as rabbits, or skunks, rats or raccoons, will also discourage larger predators.
“Manage it at the lowest level, that’s the best,” Hunter said.
“If you have livestock, you need to ensure you’re doing everything you can to protect livestock and not causing unnecessary issues. Prevention is always better than conflict.”
He suggested some basic measures that will keep farm animals safe: keep them indoors in a secure building at night time; and during the day, ensure they’re in a secure paddock or pasture, surrounded by a properly installed electric fence. Shepard type dogs also help.
Several sightings have been made of the animals in recent weeks in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, most recently last week when a cougar was seen in Cottonwood Park in west Pitt Meadows.