I received a phone call this last Tuesday from a local farmer whom had a calf killed and partially eaten by a cougar. He asked if we could perhaps hunt down this cat to avoid any further losses. With calving season just starting, there was the potential for serious losses if this cat had became accustomed to eating beef.
My friend Grant Mcdonald purchased a cougar tag and cat guide Russ Bouveur volunteered to help hunt down the cat. I received another phone call from the farmer on Wednesday night that one of his neighbours had just seen the cat on the road while driving home that evening. We definitely knew where to start the search on Thursday morning with this new bit of information. On Thursday morning we went directly to where the cat had been seen on the main road and started to track it on foot from there. It had walked up the main, public road for about 1 km., then up another neighbour’s driveway and right through the horse paddock behind his house. We talked to these people and they were very supportive of hunting the cat down. This farmer’s wife felt she had seen cougar tracks on her daily walks recently and was quite nervous and was anxious to see the cat removed.
We released Russ’ hounds in the horse paddock where we last saw the tracks and the hounds moved out quickly. They circled up around the house and headed south only about 300 metres before barking ‘treed.’ We all started to converge on the site, and Russ was the first one there and spotted the cat up a small cedar tree. It didn’t stay there long before bailing out and resuming its run. The hounds were quick to tree it again, and this time it stayed treed up a good-size Douglas-fir. Grant and I made it to the new tree quite quickly and Grant got set up for the shot with his .308. Couple of shots later, and the cat was down for good. Cattle killer eliminated.
We then started to drag the cougar back to our trucks and on the way, Russ looks down and sees more cougar tracks in his boot tracks from about 20 minutes before! Appears there was more than one cat on the little ridge where Grant shot his cougar. Russ then made the decision to put his dogs onto this new cat to try and get rid of a couple of cougars while we were in the area. His dogs set off quickly on the new track, but due to heavy melting and deep snow, had to slow down considerably after a few hundered metres into the chase. Russ kept following his hounds on foot and the chase led into some seriously-nasty country and deeper snow as they gained elevation. It was eveident that the hounds were simply not going to be able to pressure this cat into treeing with such poor snow conditions. Russ caught up to his dogs in a canyon and was able to pull them off and start the long hike back to the trucks. Grant and I were able to get permission from another neighbour to allow Russ and the hounds to at least take a somewhat easier route back to a driveable road. I walked up towards Russ to help break a trail for him to walk out on, and just above this neighbour’s house, I spotted another very fresh cougar track. That made 3 different cougar in about a 1 square km. area.
Russ was one very tired houndsman when he got back, but got some satisfaction from removing at least 1 problem cat from the neighbourhood and helping out some local landowners. Hopefully the other cats don’t take up an appetite for veal, or I fear we may be getting another call in the near future.