Tips on Protecting Your Livestock from Predators - Agriculture and Industry

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Tips on Protecting Your Livestock from Predators

HCBC Staff
Created: June 10, 2015

The Ministry of Enviroment Conservation Officer Service: COUGARS

LIVESTOCK HARASSMENT

Cougars prefer to hunt and stay where escape cover is close by. Removal of brush and trees within 1/4 mile (.4 km) of buildings, barns and livestock corrals can result in reduced predation/harassment.

Cougars that are harassing or menacing domestic animals (livestock) or birds can be hunted or trapped on a person's property under Section 26(2) of the Wildlife Act. Under Section 2 (Property in Wildlife) - section 2(4) states that a person who by accident or for protection of life or property kills wildlife, that wildlife remains the property of the government.

Persons must report the killing or wounding of any wildlife. Failing to report the killing or wounding of any wildlife whether it is for protection of life or property is an offence under section 75 of the Wildlife Act.

Persons must comply with all Municipal, Provincial and Federal laws surrounding the use and discharge of firearms or the setting of traps.

Persons are liable for any wildlife that is wounded or injured as a result of them exercising their rights under section 26(2) and that they are legally responsible for any misuse of firearms.

If there is a hunting season open for cougars at the time and in the location of the occurrence, hunters from the local Rod and Gun Club may be able to assist.
Scare devices and or electric fencing may also be an option to try and help protect livestock from cougar attacks. Local feed stores may carry these products.

Livestock and poultry should be kept locked inside a barn or coupe at night if a cougar is in the area.

If livestock is killed or injured advise the Ministry Call Centre (1-877-952-7277).

LIVESTOCK HUSBANDRY

Livestock management and predator management can effectively reduce livestock losses. Listed below are husbandry techniques that can help reduce predation:

  • Livestock confinement (not allowing livestock out onto a pasture) may prevent predation this however is not a feasible option for most farmers. Penning livestock at night is another option to help reduce predation.
  • Adding lighting to a pen or corral will also help to deter predators - livestock will quickly adapt to the lighting.
  • Spring livestock birthing coincides with predator birthing and can result in high levels of predation in the spring and earlier summer because predators are trying to feed their young.
  • Having livestock born inside barns or sheds will usually prevent predation and will also reduce newborn deaths that result from inclement weather.
  • Altering livestock birthing times until later in the spring or summer can reduce predation.
  • Avoid using pastures that have had a history of predation.
  • Pastures that are closer to buildings and human activity can be safer for young livestock.
  • Pastures with rough terrain or with dense vegetation bordering them offer cover for predators.
  • Check on the status and condition of livestock regularly in order to ensure that predator problems are identified quickly.
  • Regularly counting livestock is important in large pastures or areas with heavy cover where dead livestock could remain unnoticed. It is not unusual for livestock producers that don't regularly count their herd to suffer substantial losses before they identify that they have a predator problem.
  • Sick, injured or old livestock should be removed from the herd as predators may key in on these animals. Once a predator identifies livestock as easy prey it will likely continue to kill even healthy animals.
  • Keep records and identify each animal through tagging or branding to make it easier to identify losses.
  • Keep a journal of predator problems. Over time this journal can be used to show areas or time periods in which predator problems peak. Preventative measures can then be taken.
  • Remove livestock and poultry carcasses by burying, incinerating or rendering to reduce attractants.

Refer to Livestock Harassment and Predator Control and Prevention.

PETS

Roaming pets are easy prey for cougars, keep them leashed or behind a fence.
Bring your pet in at night. If the pet must be left out at night confine it to a kennel with a secure top.

Don’t feed the pet outside. The pet food might attract young cougars or small animals such as squirrels or raccoons which cougars prey upon.

Place domestic livestock in an enclosed shed or barn at night.

PREDATOR CONTROL and PREVENTION

Farmers and ranchers can use existing hunting and trapping seasons to control predators.
Farmers and ranchers must ensure that they comply with all Federal, Provincial and Municipal regulations surrounding hunting, trapping and the discharge of firearms in their area.

Predation losses can be reduced/minimized by practising good livestock husbandry.

REPELLENTS and SCARE DEVICES

The use of repellents and scare devices is based on the idea that predators are repelled by new or strange odours, sights or sounds.

Predators can adapt quite quickly to scare devices so regularly altering how they are deployed is important.

Combining different types of scare devices seems to work better than just using one.
Repellents and scare devices include:

  • Propane cannons, horns, sirens, flashing lights and radios with sound amplifiers

Presently there aren't any odour or taste repellents that have shown significant effectiveness in reducing cougar attacks

  • Some scare devices may be prohibited by local bylaws. Contact your local bylaw department before using such products.

FENCING
To deter cougars from preying on poultry or domestic animals heavily woven-wire or electric fence can be installed. It is important the poultry coops are covered as cougars may leap or climb over fencing.

For in-depth information on fencing refer to coyotes.

YARD AND HOME
Do not attract or feed wildlife, especially deer or raccoons. These are natural prey and may attract cougars.

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