An unusually aggressive cougar has killed five goats and at least three llamas in the Dawson Creek area in the past week, residents say.
People in the rural Bear Mountain subdivision say the cougar, which appears to be teaching a cub to hunt, has been targeting livestock in the area since April 18.
Gary Martin lost five goats the evening of April 20, just days before a neighbour's llama was found dead from what appear to be cougar bites.
Martin said police called to investigate the dead goats initially believed the animals had been shot.
"It looked like bullet holes to me, but it turned out to be cougar bites," he said, noting one animal's skull had been crushed in the cougar's mouth.
The cougar killed four pregnant nanny goats and a billy goat Martin keeps in an enclosure on his property. None of the goats or his neighbour's llamas had been eaten, leading Martin to believe the cougar is teaching its cub to kill.
Martin has lived in the area four years and says he's never seen a cougar kill so many farm animals. He pegged his losses at $2,700.
"I would imagine the deer are a little too hard to catch right now, but penned goats are like shooting fish in a barrel for a cougar," he said.
Sgt. Shawn Brinsky of the Dawson Creek Conservation Officer Service said COs placed two traps in the area on April 22, but "had no luck in anything coming back."
"It's very likely it's a cougar," he said, adding the animals are "not uncommon" on Bear Mountain.
"It's a cougar area, conflicts with livestock are not really that uncommon for the most part," he said. "Livestock penned up is pretty easy prey." Anyone having conflicts with wildlife should call the agency's RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277, he said.
He added that predator activity sometimes "spikes" in the spring when cattle and other animals give birth.
But Sandy O'Donovan, who owns the llamas, said she's never seen a cougar attack in the 26 years she's lived in the area.
"I've never even thought of a cougar," he said. "It's scary. I'm checking at night and I'm not letting the grandkids out."
Ron Jabs, who has lived on Bear Mountain for eight years, said he's never seen this kind of aggressive behaviour from a cougar, either.
"I didn't know there was cougars here," he said, adding at least one neighbour plans to hunt and kill the animal. "There's a lot of people in the area concerned."
Leanne Bowe, another resident, said there's speculation that wildfires west of town pushed the animal closer to Dawson Creek.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misstated the order in which the dead animals were discovered. Martin initially found his dead goats, which prompted O'Donovan to check on her llamas, which had also been killed.