A cougar, or cougars, went on a killing rampage at a small Fruitvale farm. Photo: Thomas S. on Unsplash

Cougar euthanized after taking out small animal farm in Fruitvale

Wildlife interactions, poachers or polluters should be reported to RAPP at 1.877.952.7277

A cougar has been captured and euthanized after the cat killed several farm animals in Fruitvale last week.

Ben Beetlestone, conservation officer (CO) for the West Kootenay, confirmed that the service quickly responded to the incident which happened, and was reported, in the early hours of June 10.

Beetlestone himself responded, first attempting to track the cougar with hounds. This method was not successful, however.

“Traps were set and the cougar was captured that evening and euthanized,” he told the Trail Times on Monday.

The animal was euthanized after it wiped out Dave McLeod’s small animal farm, located on Galloway Road.

McLeod was quick to report what happened to the CO, and he posted a warning for locals on social media shortly thereafter.

“Keep your animals inside and do not let your children cut through the tree line from above Green Road, the whole length of road through to Old Mill Road,” he cautioned early June 10. “This was all our sheep and goats killed probably for sporting/training of yearlings.”

He warned locals the rampage was carried out in a highly habituated area of a barnyard and field with neighbours and dogs close by. And it all happened in 30 minutes or less, without creating any noise.

“So please don’t write it off as just a random farm animal that was picked off by a predator,” he said. “Conservation has been called.”

On Monday, McLeod told the Times that one juvenile cat was caught and put down.

But he suspects a larger cat remains at-large.

“I think it was a mother teaching yearlings to kill,” he said. “But that is just a theory as a cat walked by my window, and I both heard it and saw its silhouette as it walked past.”

Regarding the cat that was caught, when McLeod went outside after seeing the silhouette, he recalls hearing the rattle of a chain link fence as it took off.

The cat then entered the enclosed barnyard, where CO Beetlestone had set traps.

“[The trap] caught the young cougar and the CO came by to deal with it at 5 a.m.,” McLeod said. “They did a good job because they had no photo evidence, and they could not follow up further as they did not want to endanger other animals and draw in bears with their baited trap.”

McLeod has set up cameras in hopes of catching images of the larger cougar, which he is certain is more capable of the killing rampage at his farm.

If a mature cougar is caught on camera, he plans to send the images to the conservation officers for follow up.

This Fruitvale case surfaced the same day a Boundary CO voiced frustration that dangerous wildlife encounters were being posted to social media before they’re reported to the conservation officer service.

(Note: This is not what happened in the Fruitvale incident.)

After receiving a June 10 report from the provincial tipline known as RAPP, CO Kyle Bueckert alerted the public to a cougar, “known to have killed two pets over the last 18 months” in rural Grand Forks.

Bueckert then found out that locals had been posting recent sightings of the cat to Facebook, leaving him and fellow officers out of the loop.

“COs aren’t monitoring Facebook posts and we can’t be effective or serve the community in a timely manner if we’re not being notified directly,” he said.

“At this point, we haven’t set any traps, but if we get the opportunity to trap this cougar, we will.”

Cougars are known to prey on deer and turkeys, but Bueckert qualified that, “Once a cougar keys in to killing dogs and cats, that can easily become a public safety concern.”

COs would consider euthanizing the cat if it were to kill another pet.

“Killing pets is a learned behavior by a predator,” he said, noting that cougars tend to become bolder and more dangerous once they develop that habit.

Residents across the Kootenay Boundary are reminded to keep their dogs on-leash when they go outside, especially because dogs have a tendency to charge cougars.

Anyone who spots dangerous wildlife, poachers or polluters, is urged to call the 24-hour RAPP line at 1.877.952.7277.

– with files from the Grand Forks Gazette

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