Nanoose Bay cougar shows need for husbandry changes

Picture of a cougar on a beach
A cougar (Puma concolor)walks along a beach on Vancouver Island.
Photo by Finn Steiner / Getty Images

A Vancouver Island sheep farmer is getting a lesson in husbandry practices that keep animals – domestic and wild – safe.

According to CHEK News, the farmer, who lives next to a protected ravine, alleges a cougar has killed two of sheep and one of his neighbour’s, and is ready to shoot the cougar if they return. But another resident spoke out to media after an initial story with the recommendation of a livestock guardian dog.

Livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) are typically specific breeds that will stay with a herd of animals and protect them from predation; common breeds include Anatolian Shepherd Dogs, Great Pyrenees, and others. While LGDs may be a new idea to some, the practice is far from new – in fact, evidence suggests the practice was used 9,000 years ago in Greece.

Guardian animals aren’t the only tool available to prevent or mitigate depredation on farms; deadstock management, electric fencing, housing of animals overnight, and other methods make a significant impact. Resources that can help get managers started include:

On Vancouver Island, where cougars are well established and their presence well known, these solutions can protect livestock and ensure cougars can continue to fulfill their essential ecological roles.

As noted by The Fur-Bearers’ Executive Director Lesley Fox,

“The situation in Nanoose Bay doesn’t require a BC COS response, and many tools and solutions are available that can prevent depredation without killing wildlife.”

The Fur-Bearers will continue to monitor the situation in Nanoose Bay and will provide updates if and when they are available.

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