Game and Fish officers search for cougars that killed goats

At least 4 goats killed over last 2 weeks

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
  • Game and Fish officials say livestock should be kept in barns at night and pets should be kept indoors.
  • People who believe a cougar is threatening their livestock should call nonemergency dispatch.
  • Installing outdoor lighting and eliminating sheltered areas outdoors can also help discourage mountain lions from frequenting residences, officials say.
A mountain lion is pictured in an undated courtesy photo from New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.

FARMINGTON — New Mexico Department of Game and Fish officers are trying to capture cougars, also known as mountain lions or pumas, that have killed goats in San Juan County this month, according to an email from department spokesman Dan Williams.

The first report came about two weeks ago when a female cougar with cubs killed two goats, Williams said.

Amy Harden, whose goats were killed Thursday night in the La Plata area, said in a text message that one of her goats died of fright during the attack while another was killed and partially eaten. A third goat has not been found.  

Only one cougar's tracks were found there, and New Mexico Department of Game and Fish officials do not know if it is the same cougar that killed goats two weeks earlier.

Snares and game cameras have been set up along the riparian area where the goats were killed.

Williams said if people see a cougar and believe it is a threat to their livestock, they should call nonemergency dispatch at 505-334-6622.

Cougars primarily prey on deer and follow deer populations. The department encourages people to use native plants in landscaping to avoid attracting deer. Vegetation that provides hiding spots for mountain lions should be removed, especially in areas where children play.

A juvenile mountain lion climbs a tree behind a Santa Clara, Utah residence in a file photo from Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2008.

If people are outside at dawn or dusk when cougars are most active, they should make a lot of noise to scare the cats away, according to wildlife officials.

Pets should also be kept inside at night or in kennels with secure tops, and livestock should be kept in enclosed shelters, according to the agency.

Other things people can do to prevent cougar encounters include installing outdoor lighting, closing open spaces below porches and decks, and closing the doors to outbuildings.

If people do encounter a cougar, they should make themselves look as large as possible by raising their arms and opening their coat if they are wearing one, according to wildlife officials. They should also talk to the cougar in a calm, but firm manner while slowly backing away. People should never turn their back on a cougar or run away, according to the department.

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If a cougar approaches or behaves aggressively, people should throw objects at the cougar and speak loud and more firmly to the cougar. If attacked, people should fight back and use any object within reach as a weapon. People should also remain standing, and if they fall down, they should try to get back onto their feet.

More information about living near predators can be found at

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at