Goat-killing cougar dispatched in 43rd Ave. family’s back yard

Scott Swanson

Craig Hayes says a neighbor warned him when his family adopted a small herd of goats.

“He came down and said he saw a cougar,” Hayes said. “He said it’s hard to have goats up here.”

That was Sunday night, Sept. 15.

Monday morning, Hayes was off to his job as a self-employed welder. His son Rafe, 9, headed down to check on the seven goats, some of which were tethered to a fence post in the yard below their house until the Hayeses could get some fences up on their property on the ridge at the south end of 43rd Avenue.

“Our land is really undeveloped,” Hayes said, noting that it had been logged before his family moved in seven months ago. “We weren’t anywhere near prepared to have them.”

The Afghan goats are a miniature breed, “not more than 30 pounds,” he said. “They are not really able to defend themselves.”

Rafe found one goat dead, apparently strangled, Hayes said.

“There weren’t really very many marks on it, just teeth marks on the neck,” he said.

His neighbor told him the culprit was likely a cougar and that it would probably be back.

Hayes said he called a U.S.D.A. trapper, “but I couldn’t get hold of him.”

The family went to bed Monday night and Hayes’ wife said she heard something outside.

“I went out on the deck, but I couldn’t see nothing,” he said, adding that he shined his light “all over the place. “I figured it’s not going to come back.”

Hayes was back in bed when his daughter, working on her homework around 11:30 p.m., heard more noise outside.

His wife checked their security camera and noticed a cable moving, “like a fish on a line,” Hayes said.

“I got up, grabbed my spotlight and a shotgun, and shined a light down there and sure enough, there was a cougar tugging away at the goat.

He fired five rounds, he said.

“I blasted it. It was so close to the house that I killed it with buckshot. I had to avoid hitting my kids’ trampoline.”

The cougar disappeared, and Hayes and his neighbor, who showed up following the shots, searched for about half an hour, without success, he said.

His neighbor told him the cougar was probably within 100 yards of the house.

“Now I was nervous,” Hayes said. “I knew I’d hit it, but we couldn’t find it,” he said.

He was particularly concerned about the fact that he get back home before his kids got off the school bus, which would be stopping on the road approximately 20 feet from where he’d shot the cougar.

Meanwhile, Tuesday morning, Hayes heard back from the trapper, “who was all excited and ready to go, but I told him, ‘too late, I think you’re too late.'”

He and a buddy got home early, before the bus arrived, and got busy.

“I grabbed some weapons and he was already there,” Hayes said. “He found it 50 yards from where I shot it.”

The cat, a young male about 2 years old, weighed 103 pounds when he checked in at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife office in Corvallis, he said.

“It looked like it had been eating really good. It was big for its age.”

Hayes said it was a relief to find the animal.

He said he isn’t a hunter, though he used to.

“I haven’t bought a tag in years.”

But he said he had to do it.

Referring to photos of him holding the animal, he said, “that smile on my face from me holding that cougar up was relief. I didn’t really take much joy in it.

“But I’d do it a thousand times more if I had to.”