New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
Media contact: Clint Henson, (575) 445-2311
Public contact: (888)-248-6866
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, MAY 29, 2015:
Officers kill puppy-eating cougar
RATON – Department of Game and Fish officers killed a cougar in a Raton neighborhood Thursday night after it had attacked a puppy on a woman’s front porch.
The woman had called 911 saying she saw a small cougar attack her puppy. She later told officers that she had lost another puppy a few days before and also was missing several cats.
Officers found cougar tracks and blood near the woman’s porch and called a local houndsman, who quickly treed a cougar near the home. A subsequent necropsy confirmed that the young female cougar recently had eaten a puppy.
Conservation Officer Clint Henson said the cougar might have been drawn to the woman’s house because a neighbor was feeding feral cats. “Leaving uneaten pet food or other attractants outside can draw predators into neighborhoods and closer to people and their pets,” Henson said.
Anyone who sees a cougar in a residential area or suspects one is in the area because of missing pets is encouraged to call the Department of Game and Fish area office or (888) 248-6866, or 911 in an emergency.
If you live in cougar country, here are some ways to protect yourself, your family and your pets from cougars or other large predators:
- Do not feed wildlife. Use native plants, not non-natives, so as to not attract deer, which are the primary prey of cougars. Remember, predators follow prey.
- Do not let your pets roam around outside. Bring them in at night. If you keep pets outside, provide a kennel with a secure top. Do not feed pets outside where the food can attract cougars or other smaller animals that cougars prey upon. Store and dispose of all garbage securely.
- Closely supervise small children. Make sure they are home before dusk and not outside before dawn. Make lots of noise if you come or go during times when cougars are most active — dusk to dawn. Teach your children about cougars and what they should do if they encounter one.
- Landscape or remove vegetation to eliminate hiding cover for cougars, especially around areas where children play. Make it difficult for a cougar to approach unseen.
- Install outdoor lighting, especially in areas where you walk, so you can see a cougar if one were present.
- Close off open spaces below porches or decks.
- Place all livestock in enclosed sheds or barns at night. Close the doors to all outbuildings so that an inquisitive cougar is prevented from going inside to look around.
Cougar encounters and attacks are extremely rare, but if you do encounter a cougar in the wild or in town:
- Stop or back away slowly if you can do so safely.
- Stay calm if you come upon a cougar. Talk to it calmly and firmly. Slowly move away from it.
- Immediately pick up all children off the ground and tell them to stay calm.
- Do not run from a cougar as fleeing behavior may trigger the instinct of the cougar to attack.
- Face the cougar — do not turn your back — remain in an upright position and look as large as possible (raise your arms, open up your coat, if your wearing one).
- Carry a walking stick and use it to defend yourself by keeping it between you and the cougar. If the cougar approaches closer or behaves aggressively, arm yourself with the stick, throw rocks or sticks at the cougar, and speak louder and more firmly to the cougar. Convince the cougar you are dominant and a danger to it.
- Fight back if a cougar attacks you. Use any possible object within reach as a weapon, such as rocks, sticks, jackets, a backpack or your bare hands. Cougars have been driven away by prey that fights back. Stay standing and if you fall down try to get back up on your feet.
If you have an encounter with a cougar or an attack occurs, please contact the Department at (505) 476-8000 during regular business hours, or your local sheriff’s or police department if you feel you are in danger.
For more information about cougars and living around large predators, please visit the Department Web site and check out the publication, Living with Large Predators in New Mexico.