Cougar suspected in goat attack

Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Pictured are the paws of a cougar, or mountain lion, in comparison to a humanís hand. More information distinguishing paw prints can be found at Contributed photo

Homeowner: 'It's scary to know we've got a cougar'

A cougar is believed to be responsible for the attack of a resident's goat on her property in Barry County between Monett and Pierce City.

According to resident Dolores Halbin, on Thursday evening, she heard what she described as frightening animal sounds coming from the south pasture of her property about 100 feet from her home.

"I heard the most god-awful sounds ó screaming, bleating, the dogs attacking, and the sounds of a cat," Halbin said.

Halbin didn't actually see the animal, as the incident occurred after dark, but had no doubt it was a large, predatory cat.

"It's impossible to mistake the sounds of a fighting cougar," she said.

With her flashlight batteries and cell phone dead, and a gun that wouldn't fire, Halbin said she felt totally helpless, and the attack certainly wasn't something she was expecting.

"I didn't see it [the large cat], and I was totally unprepared," she said. "By the time I got to the field, it had dragged my goat 10 feet by the thigh, and tore up his neck. I think he will live, but it's scary to know we've got a cougar. It was scary [being] that close to the house."

Luckily, the goat is expected to live, thanks to the dogs, but did sustain injuries to its neck and leg.

She believes the cat was the same animal that left large, unidentified footprints in the snow within the last month around her chicken coop.

"I think now that print was an overlay of front and back feet which would explain the seven claw marks," she said.

Halbin contacted the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) to report the attack and inquire about tracking and trapping the animal.

"I don't want to see the animal shot," she said. "They're almost endangered. They told me to take pictures of the bite marks on the goat's neck, and they will be able to figure out what kind of cat it was. The neighbors set up four wildlife cameras. I will know more when I hear back from the MDC and we've checked the cameras."

Hopefully, there won't be another attack, but if there is, Halbin said she will be more prepared.

According to information posted on the MDC's website, 71 sightings of cougars, also called mountian lions, have been confirmed since 1994, with the most recent in Barry County in September 2013, when the animal's image was captured on a game camera. The most recent sightings in the state were in Iron County and Madison County, both in September 2017.

According to information posted on the MDC's website, many mountain lion sightings in the state turn out to be cases of mistaken identity, so before a sighting can be officially confirmed, conservation agents first investigate physical evidence such as any photos, video, tracks, hair and bite marks.

The DOC has an informative video online, entitled "Mountain Lions in Missouri," describing why the animals are roaming into the state, how sightings are confirmed and what to do in the unlikely event one is encountered.

To view the video, see the difference between mountain lion tracks and dog tracks, or hear what types of sounds a mountain lion makes in the woods compared to other animals, people may visit: If one is seen or suspected in the area, people should contact the Barry County conservation office at 417-847-5949 or 417-847-2430.

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