08/24/2012 10:29 EDT | Updated 10/24/2012 05:12 EDT

Cougar Attacks Alarm Vancouver Island Farmers

This image provided by the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy shows a photo of a wild cougar they say was taken by a remote camera June 1, 2012, on private property in southern Marquette County, Mich. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says it has verified the presence of cougars in Michigan at least 15 times in recent years. But the agency says there's no evidence of breeding activity and believes the cats are probably wandering through the state from elsewhere, while the wildlife conservancy believes Michigan has a resident cougar population. (AP Photo/Michigan Wildlife Conservancy)
Many residents in a rural area near Victoria area are taking precautions after a series of cougar attacks that have left at least 10 animals dead.

Conservation officers say three sheep and seven goats have been killed in Central Saanich over the past week.

Central Saanich farmer Gord Rickard said he lost seven of his 10 goats to an attack Tuesday night.

“There were claw marks on the sides and in the belly,” Rickard said. “I looked at the head and you could see where there definite bite marks right into the throat.”

Rickard said he's not convinced the cougar responsible for the killings will be found and he's keeping his three remaining goats inside his barn at night.

“I think there's quite a few [cougars] around, but we just don't see them, you know ... but they're not very visible animals."

Big cat fearless

But farm owner Nigel Bass said he has seen a big cat on his property, and is concerned about its apparent fearlessness.

“This was much bigger than I thought it would be and not terribly afraid of me,” Bass said.

“It’s a little bit of an eerie feeling, really, to be outside on your own property and know that there is a predator of that size in the area.”

Conservation officers have set traps and sent out tracking hounds without results.

Officer Peter Pauwels says all they can do is wait for the next report of a cougar sighting.

“We'll wait and see what happens and go back out with the hounds if we have to,” Pauwels said.

Pauwels advises all residents in the area not to leave small children, dogs, cats or farm animals unsupervised.

A seven-year-old boy survived a cougar attack near Port Alberni, B.C., last week, the latest in a number of violent encounters on Vancouver Island over the last few years.

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