Author Topic: SRD's indiscrimate and under the radar cougar transplantation program  (Read 2338 times)

Paul

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Would really like hear some thoughts on this.

I was talking to a customer of mine yesterday who grew up farming west of Alder flats. He said he remembers seeing big herds of elk out there, sometimes over 100, and deer so thick it was ridiculous. Over the years the populations dwindled, now you would be hard pressed to find an elk around there and deer are few and far between. What he said is there is an abundance of cougar in the area, and it's nothing to tree 4 or 5 in a day out there, and he thinks the SRD transplanted them out there to control the ungulate population. He is not a hunter, but that's what he figures.

Back when I lived around Slave Lake, cougars in the area were a bit of an urban legend. Guys mentioned it, but there were very few guys who had actually seen one. My buddy Ed, who lives in Widewater, has a couple cams on his acreage. The past couple years he's been getting cougar pics, right in the acreage area, and there have been lots of cougar sightings along the south shore. He has also seen cougars in the farming area around Kinuso, right close to town, sitting on bales. The deer population there has went from abundance (nothing to see 100 there in a day) to virtually nothing, you would be lucky to see 15 in a day.

My family, who homesteaded west of Lac La Biche in the farming area around Hylo, has also reported seeing cougars in the area. This is an area where no one spoke of cougars in the last 70 years. The area was at one time polluted with deer, again, there isn't much there anymore, where you could see 150-200 in a day you might see 20.

So it begs the question, where are these cats coming from, and are the SRD quietly transplanting cougars in agricultural areas to control the ungulate populations? And if so does it set a dangerous precedent, because when the deer are gone, where will these cats turn? Livestock? Peoples kids playing in the yard?


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« Last Edit: December 05, 2013, 10:19:57 PM by Paul »

deerman

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Re: SRD's indiscrimate and under the radar cougar transplantation program
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2013, 11:56:44 PM »

Some animals are not too hard to capture, handle and transport in a relocation project.

Cougars NOT.

I am pretty sure that SRD has never relocated cougars in Alberta.  But it is one of those rumours and legends that persists.

Deer are a prime food source for cougars.  As you pointed out in some areas there has been heaps of deer in the past.  That attracts predators and allows them to breed quite successfully.

Paul

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Re: SRD's indiscrimate and under the radar cougar transplantation program
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2013, 09:52:47 AM »
That's true deerman, I am not saying with any certainty that this is occuring, with the explosion of deer over the past 20 years, it is likely a naturally occurring range expansion due to abundant food sources. With the deer population significantly reduced in some areas the cougar population may recede as well.

Weste

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Re: SRD's indiscrimate and under the radar cougar transplantation program
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2013, 01:53:07 PM »
Deer populations will ebb and flow in Alberta, mostly due to climatic conditions and farming practices.  Albertans tend to overgraze with livestock and the practice of killing a stubble field with desicant after harvest (to eliminate volunteer growth the next year) has removed a valuable food source in the winter for ungulates in Alberta.  Still, ungulate populations overall are up from levels seen 30+ years ago.  The recent hard winters and changing farming practices will have more effect on populations than the local predators. 

Human activity is probably up around your customers farm west of ALder flats and that will have more impact on the deer/elk populations than a few predators.  From recreational activity or commercial activity, there are very few un affected places left in ALberta.  Those animals just find somewhere else to hang out.

Anyway, I think you ask some big picture questions there Paul that cannot be directly attributed to any one activity or predator.

As for cougars, heck landowners can now kill them without a licence, something that was not possible just a few years ago.  I don't see F&W re-locating these animals.  They are great predators and will follow the food.  I believe cougars are found from northern Alberta to the southern tip of South America, certainly an animal that can adapt to a number of different climates. 

unclebuck

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Re: SRD's indiscrimate and under the radar cougar transplantation program
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2013, 06:05:36 AM »
Cougars have been caught on traplines north of Lac La Biche in recent years.  A cougar was seen on the local golf course and in the residential across the road from the GC.  SRD claims that they have migrated from the CLAWR in recent years.  Whether it is fact or not, there is a lot of speculation as to their origins in the area.