Killed cougar highlights ranchers battle to protect livestock

WIMER, Ore.– A rancher near Rogue River has been having trouble with cougars. Several reports came in over the weekend that livestock was being killed.

Instead of waiting for the next attack, the rancher tracked down the big cat himself. NBC5 News spoke with the man who tracked the cougar for a few days before shooting and killing it, but he didn’t want to go on camera.

He and other ranchers say while they don’t want to kill the animals, they have to protect their livelihoods.

“It had been a local problem in the area. Several neighbors had lost goats and sheep,” said Bruce Buckmaster, a rancher and friend of the man who killed the cougar.

Rural life in the Rogue Valley is peaceful. But every now and then, danger can be lurking just around the corner.

Buckmaster says families near the town of Wimer have been dealing with cougars, coyotes, bears and sometimes wolves for as far as he can remember.

“Predators and people don’t mix,” he said.

Cougars attacking livestock, according to Buckmaster, seem to become more of a problem.

“Fortunately, we haven’t had any casualties with humans with wolves or cougars in southern Oregon,” he said.

Buckmaster’s friend who shot the cougar lost several goats recently. Over the weekend, his friend brought him something surprising.

“So he comes in here and he’s got this cougar in the back of his trailer and says now what do I do,” said Buckmaster.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says killing cougars that have killed livestock is permitted. The agency and Oregon State Police just need to be notified beforehand and the body must be brought in for testing after it’s been killed.

“Living in a rural area, you know we aren’t out to here to devastate all wildlife by any means,” said Buckmaster. “But we gotta protect our livestock.”

People like Buckmaster say they chose the rural life to enjoy nature. But making a living is just as important.

ODFW says the cougar was brought in and identified as a young male.

If you are having an issue with a cougar, ODFW asks that you notify them to receive instructions on what you can legally do.

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