Monday, February 2, 2009

This Is Too Close For Comfort..............

This was in the news on Saturday, January 31st, 2009. This is just one county slightly north from us and last year's sighting in Rock County whose Cougar somehow ended up in Chicago to be killed by the police, one county west. Literally both counties just a few miles from us.

I've had my normal troubles with Coyotes and ours are big up here because they've mixed with feral dogs, but this is crazy. Apparently the Cougars are making a comeback, which I'm not against, after all, they used to populate this state before humans drove them out, just shocked. Not sure how I'd deal with this confrontation whilst out feeding my animals. Funny enough last year Stephen and I found a frozen cat track on our property near about the same time and questioned ourselves before all the news hit about the Cougar. After that we were certain of it. We both knew that the track we found was not that of a canine, but couldn't believe it.
I guess we'll have to be be on extra alert and quite diligent. It would break my heart to come out and find a dead horse or goat. The cougars are protected here. I'm hoping that the smell of our dogs all over the property will be enough to deter the feline and that perhaps the cat will find the pig farm across the street more palatable.

"WATERTOWN, Wis. -- Residents in Jefferson County are on high alert after a horse on a farm in rural Watertown was attacked and killed by some kind of wild animal.
Amanda Saxby found the horse on Monday. She said, "It was horrifying to come down and see her in the condition that she was in."
Saxby described the neck injury to her veterinarian who then told her to call the Department of Natural Resources.
Based on the horse's wounds and what she was told by wildlife experts, Saxby thought the wild animal that attacked the horse may be a cougar.
"By the pattern of the attack, being in her throat area and her head area, that's characteristics of a large cat compared to a wolf would prey on an animal or take down from behind," Saxby said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture took over the investigation, but experts don't know exactly what killed the horse because the family had already buried it.
Wildlife officials documented tracks in the snow and looked at another one of Saxby's injured horses.
Saxby said that horse suffered paw marks across her rear on both sides and teeth marks and puncture wounds on the inside of her leg.
The USDA said the tracks resemble that of a canine, possibly a wolf.
Saxby may never know what killed their horse, but she said they're taking extra precautions.
She said, "We have completely changed our feeding schedules. We're making sure everything is done during the daylight hours and that multiple people come down at one time."
Just last year, a cougar was spotted in Rock County and eventually shot to death by police in a Chicago neighborhood.
The USDA said, recently, there have been no legitimate sightings of cougars in southern Wisconsin."


Grey Horse Matters said...

I've thought about this too, what would I do if confronted with a big cat or a bear. There have been sightings here of the big cats,(they introduced them into the area to keep the deer population down)thanks a lot. And the hunters around here set up motion cameras in the woods and caught a huge bear on it, before the bear got annoyed and destroyed the camera, he was pretty mad and it,this was right behind our farm.
Anyway that's why we brought them all in for the winter, Sweetie is now residing in the grooming stall since we have 7 horses and only six stalls.Usually at least two live outside.
Hope you have no trouble with the cats, but be careful out there.

Callie said...

Arlene, We have black bears here in Wisconsin, but they are quite a bit north from here, although last year, they caught one in Milwaukee near where I work. There seems to more and more of the big cat sightings. I hope that the outdoor lights and radio on constant helps to deter. Cripes! I wouldn't want to confront either of them!

SunnySD said...

They're definitely moving east. A legislator out here (SD) is supporting a bill that would allow landowners to shoot mountain lions without a license as long as the lions are on the landowner's property. Makes sense to me, if they're a threat. We've had a couple of instances here where livestock has been attacked - usually calves or young horses, and GFP tends to blame it on dogs. If a dog can drop out of a tree and leave six inch claw shaped gouges down a horse's back & sides, I'd like to see it!

Callie said...

SuunySD, I agree, I think the DNR is trying to brush it off as something other than it is. I understand protecting the wildlife, but we should be able to protect our livestock too. Coyotes here are free shoot to kill, no questions because there are so many of them. And they're quite brazen as they've mixed with loose dogs and do not fear humans as they used too. We are having more and more big cat sightings around here. Scary!

Mikey said...

Wow! That is close! Keep a gun loaded and handy, and if you hear horses getting upset, go out armed and ready to shoot. Happens all the time here.
Every year I see horses with wounds like that, healed up, from lion attacks. We get a lot out here. It's no fooling, and it's why I keep a loaded rifle over the door.
Remember, if you do see one and aren't armed, be big and be fierce. Don't back down, don't run.
Scary stuff!

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

The attacks started years ago in the Black Hills-people found their livestock dead and a friend of ours even had his kids chased to the house by a ML. The game fish and parks denied it, until a ML was photographed in someone's yard. Around about that time, people in my area started reporting horse attacks and the GF&P again denied such accounts. They act like we are too stupid to know what we are seeing. The neighbor had two horses disappear and they finally found them, both dead. One had been eaten on(they said coyotes) and the other found in a draw, upside down. The only thing we could figure was that the ML got after the horses, killed one and the other was so panicked that he ran off an embankment.
Last year was bad, one rancher literally had to stand guard over his mares during foaling season. They had spotted several lions in the area and lost 2 foals. Another rancher heard his dog barking and then a yelp. He ran outside with a flashlight and rifle, thinking coyotes had ganged up on his dog. He walked around his yard calling his dog. And then it fell out of a tree. He said he beat it back to the house. Another rancher lost two of his dogs and most of his cats to "presumably" the same cat.

This is the main reason we do not foal in the pasture anymore. Not going to take any chances of losing a baby to a ML. Both my brother and I bought tags(they cost $25)so if we see one, it is toast.

As much as I love wildlife, I am going to protect my livestock. And I hope you guys take care. If you ever get the creepy feeling you are being probably are.

Le Cheval Endiablé et Phyto said...

Difficult to live all together. The foal on the picture might have been very frightened. Hope he will recover without damages.

cdncowgirl said...

We have cougars here too, they've even been spotted in the city.
Really scary thing was last winter. An appy breeder lost a few horses to a cougar attack. They live right next to the acreage we almost bought! :O
I am soooo glad that the house and barn needed too much work and we decided against buying it. *shiver*

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Cougar tracks differ from canine, in that cougar's claws are retractable and canine's are not.
So, if you saw a track without claw marks, then you had a cougar on your property.

We sometimes see cougars crossing our county roads at night. Not long ago, a cougar jumped across the road and we almost hit it. It was only 1/2 mile from our house.

There are bears all over our mountains, too. We feel a little bit safer as we live in a valley which is not as tree covered as the mountains surrounding us.

But we do have fruit orchards, which often draw the bears down when they get hungry.

Some folks, like us keep a light on, and a radio on at night as it seems to deter the wild animals, who would rather avoid humans.


Rising Rainbow said...

We had a bear with a cub living behind our manure pile for a time one summer. We only caught a glimpse of them exiting our field one day but there was lots of evidence they were regular visitors to that location.

We also have had cougar spotted within less than a mile of our place. I always felt safer when we had dogs but currently we are dogless. We just keep our eyes peeled and our ears working to be safe.

I hope you all stay safe! Life is tough enough without the big cats moving in.

Callie said...

Thanks all for the advice! I hope we don't encounter one. I do need a gun though!

ezra_pandora said...

Holy schmoley!! (just came over from Laughing Orca Ranch and reading backwards) I would be very freaked out to go out. Do they have anything they suggest aside from just being careful (duh)? Like make loud noises, use high powered flashlights? Those high pitched dog whistles?