After several reported cougar attacks in May on horses in the Rockyford area there has been another possible cougar sighting.
“There was a possible sighting, it was unconfirmed on July 16 and that was north of Standard almost towards Rosebud country up there,” said Garry Shmorong, Fish and Wildlife Officer for Strathmore District. Garry says it’s hard to say if the sighting was the same cougar that attacked the horses this past May.
“Because the Drumheller (and) Red Deer River country has always had cats up there and they always expand in their country so who knows. It could be one, it could be a number, it’s hard to say,” said Shmorong. The cougar sightings and attacks are not normal for the prairies and this activity is probably due to a high cougar population that is expanding territory.
“Their numbers are getting higher and higher across the province and they’re expanding their territories,” said Shmorong, “so it is uncommon for them to be on the prairies but because of the expansions of their territories we’re going to eventually have them all across the province, if they’re not managed properly.” To prevent their numbers from increasing too much, the cougar harvest will have to be increased which will reduce the number of cougars seen in unusual habitats like the prairies, which in turn will reduce the attacks on livestock. Right now, with the high amount of cougar activity there is not much a livestock owner can do to protect their animals.
“To prevent livestock from being attacked by cougars, it’s pretty tough, especially on a prairie setting where guys put out their cattle in the grazing summer fields and they don’t come back to check them usually until the fall,” said Shmorong, “so you can’t really do nothing to protect them out there. Unless you’re out there checking every day and monitoring them.”
It’s easier to try to prevent cougars from coming close to your home.
“The stuff around your homestead, you know you could protect those by having loud music going on during the evenings, motion sensored lights, there’s things like that would help to prevent predators from coming into your yard, but again, there’s no guarantee,” said Shmorong.
Anyone who spots a cougar or cubs in their area is encouraged to contact Wheatland Conservation and Wildlife Association at 403-934-3422.