If a large wild cat species is killing a farmer’s livestock there are basically two ways that the farmer can deal with the situation. He can kill the cat or protect his livestock¹. The choice that he makes depends on (a) the law – is there is a law concerning this particular matter? — and (b) whether he respects the cat and wishes to conserve the cat in a world that, in general, is gradually, bit by bit, eradicating the wildcats species from the planet. Farmers are businessmen. They themselves survive through the existence of their livestock. A farmer is unlikely to automatically improve the protection of his livestock which will cost considerably more than shooting the cat. It is about money again.
As I understand it, on a state-by-state basis, in the United States there are regulations and there is legislation which allows farmers, on occasions and under certain circumstances, to shoot a cougar if the cat is attacking his livestock. Perhaps somebody would be kind enough to add some detail to that?
I believe, as I surely would, that the better and fairer solution is for farmers in the United States to find ways to better protect their livestock rather than shooting the cougar. Why should the farmer do this? The answer is simple: conservation. If he needs financial assistance he should receive it from government funds. I am sure there are places where this happens. But how commonplace is it?
Happily, there are places in the world where farmers are encouraged to step up the protection of their livestock when a large wild cat is killing it. The snow leopard occupies large areas generally to the north of India and in several countries. The Snow Leopard Trust are involved, once again, in clever cat conservation. In northern India, many snow leopards have lost their lives after they have entered livestock pens.
The snow leopard, like the cougar, can enter a livestock pen and kill more livestock than he can eat. Apparently, a few years ago a snow leopard worked its way into a livestock pen and killed 50 goats in one night. In retaliation, the villagers cornered and killed the cat.
The Snow Leopard Trust worked with herders to create livestock pens that protected livestock from the snow leopard. The International Foundation provided a grant. In August of 2013, ten livestock enclosures were completed in the Rong Valley (Jammu-Kashmir) to protect more than 1,600 animals.
In the Miru Valley a total of 6 enclosures were constructed which protect 500 livestock. And exactly how did the herders modify their enclosures so that the goats were protected? They used chicken wire and a bit of elbow grease!
The chicken wire was suspended across the walls of the enclosure thereby preventing the snow leopard from jumping into it. One of the laudable aspects of snow leopard conservation is that a lot of effort goes into ensuring that local villagers and farmers are fully involved in the conservation of this beautiful wild cat species. You can’t achieve anything without the involvement and commitment of local people.
Now I’d like to look at an alternative method of protecting livestock, chosen at random from the Internet. I searched for 3 mins (genuinely). The story comes from Eugene in Oregon, USA. The date? March 18, 2014. This is current. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife reported that it had trapped and killed a second cougar preying on livestock near a Eugene park. The cougar that they had trapped was euthanised. The first cougar was a female. She was shot through the head. They were still searching for a third cougar. The trap had been set.
The reason for the destruction of three cougars was that goats and chickens living near the park were being taken by cougars. According to state law the remains of the cougars go to the resident who incurred the livestock losses. Apparently the person who has the right to the carcasses plans to turn the hides into a blanket.
I do not think I need to say much more or comment on which is the better method.
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