COCHISE COUNTY — Eight goats were killed off Ramsey Canyon Road last week, state wildlife officials said Monday, and they’re suspecting it could be an attack by mountain lions.
In the space of about a month, 16 goats, including the group found Friday, have been killed in the communities located along the eastern slope of the Huachuca Mountains, said Mark Hart, a spokesman for Arizona Game and Fish.
Additionally, “more than 60 head of stock have been taken by predators since early 2021 in Cochise and Santa Cruz counties,” Hart said.
While the agency still is not certain that the killings were done by one or more mountain lions, Hart said the condition of the goats killed Friday is similar to the method used by such animals.
“One of the goats was partially consumed and the rest had debris all over them,” Hart said. “Mountain lions usually cover up their prey so they can return to finish eating it.”
Hart said Game and Fish is asking residents in the area, as well as other parts of Cochise County, to not feed deer or javelina because those animals will attract predators to the spot where they’re being fed.
Also, Game and Fish Regional Supervisor Raul Vega is requesting that residents secure small pets and cattle, if possible.
“ ... Small pets and livestock in the area should be secured in a fully enclosed, roofed structure at night,” Vega said. “Livestock protection dogs are also an effective deterrent. “Feeding wildlife in the area, especially deer, is discouraged as it tends to draw in predators.”
Arizona Game and Fish is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to determine how to deal with the situation, Hart said.
The Cochise County Sheriff’s Office, meanwhile, has been faced with reports of several packs of feral or abandoned dogs roaming all over the county, creating havoc for people and other animals, said Sheriff’s spokeswoman Carol Capas.
Last week was especially busy after one Hereford resident decided to surrender his 14 dogs, Capas said, “because he could no longer control them.”
Seven other dogs were taken by the Sheriff’s Office in the area of Cochise and several others were seized in Bowie, Capas said.
It’s unknown why packs of roaming dogs have suddenly began surfacing all over the county, Capas said.
“We can’t really point to a specific reason (why this is happening),” Capas said. “Whether it’s dogs being abandoned, or feral dogs, or dogs getting loose and teaming up with other loose dogs, we just don’t know.
“But they’re attacking people and other animals and creating a nuisance,” she said.
The Sheriff’s Office is also working with the USDA, Capas said.
Anyone who sees a predator in their area is asked to call 623-236-7201.