Some weeks are more eventful than others.
Here is my description of how two of our yearling goats were killed, and how I saved one of the does.
On Wednesday morning (Aug. 18th), two things happened. The first was that two drakes disappeared during the previous night. They were penned together with the flock of geese, but for the last 4 days we had let the geese run loose in order to graze what they could from the nearly dormant summer grass. The result was that these two ducks were also loose. I knew they should be penned up but had not taken the time to do it.
The second unusual thing was that “Smokey” our American Lavender gander was left dead with a broken neck. The ganders have been fighting a lot lately, which I’ve attributed to a lack of fresh grass (I’ve been supplementing their feed, which has helped–some). It’s unusual for them to actually hurt each other though, but this one was dead near its usual resting spot.
Things got bad Wednesday night though. It was Abigail’s turn to spend the night in the hammock outside, and Kathy was walking her out to tuck her in at about 9:30 PM. They immediately came back inside, and Abigail was crying loudly. One of our yearling doe goats (Sunyara) was dead on the path between the house and the tent. It had been killed by something strangling it’s neck.
2 other goats were loose–they had squeezed through the bottom of a loose gate. I put those goats back and checked the other animals. The youngest gosling was missing, but everything else was okay.
I penned up the geese, put the carcass near the goose pen and slept in the back of the pickup, knowing they would wake me if something came by. They did wake me several times, but I didn’t see anything more Wednesday night.
Thursday night I did the same thing with the animals in the same places. At 3:30 AM the geese didn’t wake me, but the goats did. I heard one or two screams from the goat pen, and I ran to see what was happening.
Buttercup was on the ground being strangled by a cougar. I ran to where I could get a clear shot and fired at the two eyes reflecting from the flashlight taped to the barrel of my little .22 rifle. It ran away and stumbled into and over the fence behind it. I got another 2 shots onto it before it used a large maple to climb over our perimeter fence and disappeared into the brush where it hid.
I went around the fence and found where it was hiding, and put a 4th shot into its mouth from about 4 feet away. To my amazement it thrashed through the brush pile and ran another 20 yards before hiding again. (One of it’s front fangs deflected the bullet) This time I couldn’t find it in the dark, and decided to come back after the sun was up.
At 6 we saw that there was another goat down. Our only other yearling doe (Yara) had been killed as well. I checked on her and then went to find the cougar. It heard me coming and stood trying to limp away. It took 2 more bullets to kill it.
The game warden who came to collect the cougar said it was most likely being taught how to hunt by it’s mother, and that I should keep the animals penned up in case the mother cougar returned again. From the marks on Yara, I could tell it was a larger cat that killed her.
I camped in the pickup for 2 more nights, but so far there haven’t been any more incidents. The goats now get locked up at night in a 12′ x 12′ kennel which has a tarp over the top. They don’t like it much, but it’s much safer.
I’m wondering now if I should get a larger gun to protect the animals. Kathy told me that she’s already revised her winter section shelter plans to make them cougar-proof.