No sleep for Alberta sheep farmer after cougar rampage in livestock corral

COCHRANE, Alta. — A southern Alberta farmer says he’s still trying to get over the shock of losing most of his sheep herd in a cougar attack.

Barry Richards, who farms in the Cochrane area, says he spotted a sickly looking cougar lurking in the area on Monday and began patrolling his sheep enclosure to prevent the big cat from stalking his animals.

He settled in for the night after believing the cougar had moved on, but the next morning he discovered the bulk his herd — 38 animals — either dead or nearly dead.

Two rams weighing about 136 kilograms each, 20 ewes and 16 lambs were among the livestock attacked.

Neighbours helped corner the cougar in a tree and Alberta Fish and Wildlife officers were dispatched to euthanize it.

Wildlife officials say the cougar was emaciated and in very poor health, adding that it’s unnatural for a single cougar to kill so many sheep at one time.

Only 10 sheep, including two lambs, survived the attack.

Richards said he’s been told he will be compensated for livestock lost in the attack.

“I’m feeling kind of stunned still,” he said. “Feeling really tired and like I have post-traumatic stress syndrome … I’m not really doing very well.”

Estelle Coulson, Richards’ daughter, said the family was attached to the herd.

“A lot of these sheep I grew up with. It’s so shocking that they’re just gone. I just never expected something like this to happen.”

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