The Ministry of the Environment said three cougars were destroyed after they killed a lamb and attacked a donkey near Courtenay over the weekend.
According to the province, an owner on a property close to the visitor information centre near the Courtenay-Cumberland interchange called RCMP on Saturday and said a cougar had killed one of his lambs. The owner also said the cougar had been seen chasing some pigs.
The property owner told police he shot the cougar and believed it was struck on its hindquarters before running off. RCMP went to the property and contacted the Conservation Officer Service.
RCMP then went behind the lamb pen and found two cougars thought to be juveniles that were still on the property. Both cougars were killed by the RCMP.
Since neither of the cougars were previously wounded, RCMP determined that a third cougar, likely an adult female, was still out in the wild and potentially wounded.
Conservation officers went to the property with tracking dogs early Sunday morning and observed a donkey with a minor scratch on its ear. The province said the donkey likely defended the other livestock and was injured. The lamb/donkey pen and fence was in good condition and the pen’s proximity to the house was very close. According to the province, this elevated the risk to the owner and his family as the cougars had hunted livestock right next to the house.
When conservation officers were at the property, they saw an adult cougar on the access road twice, approximately 120 metres from the landowner’s house. The cougar then returned and a conservation officer used tracking hounds to find the animal.
Despite the dogs’ barking, the cougar stayed on the property and did not run when it was approached. Instead, it crouched down and watched from a distance of 20 metres.
“This behaviour was not normal, and the CO had little doubt this cougar was involved with the livestock conflict last night,” the ministry said in a statement.
The conservation officer killed the cougar then determined it did not suffer a gunshot wound from the landowner.
The province said anyone who sees a cougar or interacts with one can call the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277.