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Rural Dallas: It Is Indeed Part Of Cougars' Territory

DALLAS -- Blaine Billman knew something was wrong when he spotted one of his two angora pygmy goats alone on July 29. "First, I noticed one goat standing out in the field by herself, which is

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Wildlife agents killed this female cougar after it preyed on goats at a Dallas-area farm.

DALLAS -- Blaine Billman knew something was wrong when he spotted one of his two angora pygmy goats alone on July 29.

"First, I noticed one goat standing out in the field by herself, which is unusual because they are always together," he said.

The pair of goats belonged to a group of four that stayed with the property on Mistletoe Road in Dallas when Billman and his wife, Sue, bought the property.

He said since then, two of the goats died, but before that the foursome would follow each other everywhere, marching in a single-file line, like little four-legged soldiers.

The pair remaining followed the same pattern. They had the run of the small pasture and barn, but they stayed together.

Nevertheless, Billman checked gates to make sure they were latched and looked for other routes of escape.

He didn't find anything amiss.

Then he went in the barn, where the goats usually spend nights. Nothing was immediately noticeable except a pile of hay in the corner.

Billman said when he took a closer look, he saw a tuft of white hair. Pushing the hay aside, he discovered his other goat, its neck broken and belly torn open.

A cougar had killed and carefully buried it in Billman's barn over night, presumably to return later.

Billman said the attack was surprising because he hadn't heard about a cougar in the area.

Billman said he buried his goat the day he found her. The lone survivor followed him around that entire day.

The next morning Billman found her, with the same wounds and buried in the barn.

Federal wildlife agents with the United States Department of Agriculture responded to these attacks. Wildlife service agents told Billman to not bury or touch the goat. They set a trap, using it as bait.

In the meantime, Billman warned his neighbors of the roaming predator.

"I didn't now how long the cougar would focus on one property," Billman said. "Unfortunately, we are in their territory."

On Aug. 3, Billman found the cat, still alive and caught in the leg trap. Wildlife agents quickly dispatched the animal. Billman said it was a small female cougar, about 65 to 70 pounds.

The cat stalking Billman's property was the second federal officials recently had to destroy in the Dallas area. Another that had killed three goats on a farm west of Dallas in mid-July was trapped and killed.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife usually gets a call reporting livestock predation about once a week in the Mid-Willamette Valley area, said Nancy Taylor with the Corvallis Office of ODFW.

Many calls that are reported as cougar attacks turn out to be the work of other predators, mainly coyotes.

To tell the difference, an agent has to inspect the animal for bite marks to determine which species was the culprit.

Taylor said livestock owners should call immediately after noticing the attack. Predators may return to a carcass for a day or two, but not longer.

"If it's been several days, it's likely the animal has moved away," Taylor said.

She said owners should cover the animal with a tarp and call either ODFW or USDA Wildlife Services.

Billman said despite the traumatic nature of the attacks and the aftermath, the incident won't prevent him from having animals on his property again.

"It's not a deal-breaker," Billman said. "It's just part of the experience."

For more information, or to report a cougar siting or attack, call ODFW's regional office in Corvallis at 541-757-4186.

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