Conservation officers have removed two problematic cougars in the region, Sgt. Jeff Tyre of the Cariboo-Chilcotin Conservation Officer Service said.
In both cases, the expertise of conservation officer and houndsman Jared Connatty was a huge asset, said Tyre.
In the first incident, a tom was removed on the outskirts of the Esler division in November after it killed a miniature horse.
“The horse had been killed 48 hours earlier and the cougar was likely scared off the kill as it did not return to feed,” Tyre said. “Without the aid of the hounds we never would have been able to track this cougar and would have had to wait for another incident before we could effectively deal with it.”
Conservation officers eventually located the cougar within close proximity to the subdivision and given the history of cougar conflicts in area and the learned behavior the cougar was exhibiting, they decided to destroy the animal.
The second cougar was removed on a ranch southeast of 100 Mile House on Dec. 12.
It had killed a donkey within a fenced corral and fed on it briefly before being scared off the kill by the rancher, Tyre said.
When the COS arrived at the ranch, temperatures were hovering around -20C.
“They set about investigating the attack site and found the adult tom cougar bedded down within 100 feet of an outbuilding a short distance from the kill site,” Tyre said.
Within about 500 metres the cougar was treed and destroyed.
“Killing livestock is a learned behavior and with more livestock in the corrals the COS was not willing to risk a repeat incident,” Tyre said.
Relocation of individuals, such as cougars, is rarely successful because they often return to their original home territory or become problem animals in other communities, he added.
“In addition, relocated wildlife often fail to adapt to their new habitat and, as a result, may starve to death or be killed by those animals that already occupy the area.”
Tyre said Connatty arrived to work in the region at the end of August, coming from Cranbrook.
He brought five hounds with him and is a full-time field conservation officer and houndsman specializing in cougar/human conflict.
“As such he is a provincial asset and can be called to assist with cougar incidents anywhere in B.C.,” Tyre said. “He is currently training three officers to act as secondary houndsman who will have the ability to assist Jared with responses or respond with the hounds themselves when Jared is unable to.”