News - November 23, 2011

Woodside: Mountain lion kills three goats on Tripp Road

A mountain lion killed three dwarf goats in a fenced enclosure on Tripp Court in Woodside on Nov. 14, but the chances of the goats' owner finding and killing the lion — which is legal after attacks on livestock — have diminished, a state Department of Fish and Game official told the Almanac.

The best time for such a hunt is within 24 hours of the incident, Capt. Don Kelly of Fish and Game said in a telephone interview. For best results, the carcass should be left untouched as the lion is likely to return to it to feed, he said.

A woman in Santa Cruz County recently called Fish and Game for a depredation permit after a mountain lion killed four of her goats, Capt. Kelly said. At 2 p.m. she had the permit and by 5:15 p.m., she had shot and killed the lion, which had returned to feed, he said. The state confiscated the lion carcass, as required by law.

In this Woodside case, which the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office reported, the owner had the goats hauled off to a tallow factory. The lion had fed on only one; the other two were killed because they kept running around inside the enclosure, Capt. Kelly said. By instinct, lions will attack prey that runs, he said.

Mountain lions that kill livestock tend to be young and learning to hunt or elderly and no longer able to hunt deer, Capt. Kelly said.

"I feel terrible. These goats were our family," said Ed Begun, who with his wife owned the goats. "It was just devastating to see this happen. Then again, on the other side, who's intruding on whose territory? You've got to be a little philosophical about it."

Mr. Begun could not be reached for comment on whether he plans to seek a depredation permit. He said he has moved to safety two alpacas that were penned with the goats, and that he has no plans to build a higher fence around the pen. It's now about 6 feet high. Lions have vertical leaps of 12 to 15 feet, wildlife biologists say.

This lion may kill livestock again. It is not unheard of for a single lion to be the target of two or three depredation permits, Capt. Kelly said.

Asked if they will be getting more goats, Mr. Begun said they would cross that bridge when they got to it.

"We're just going to have to co-exist," he added. "I'm not militant about (the predation), but I am upset about it."


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