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Cougar kills family’s goat

Mellodee Behunin, 14, holds the family goat on Friday after it was attacked by a cougar the night before. The animal was euthanized a short time later.

The commotion that woke Jason and Darcie Gutierrez’s daughter late Thursday night wasn’t the  delivery of twin goats they were awaiting.

It was a cougar, attacking their pregnant goat, Opal.

“It was a monster cat,” Jason said Friday morning. “It came right over the top of a 6-foot livestock fence, pretty much crushed the fence, grabbed her and started hauling her off. He buckled (the fence) over like it was a napkin; bent a post on the fence almost halfway to the ground. If it hadn’t been for her extra size, he would’ve just pulled her over the fence and been gone with her.”

The family has two goats, about 30 chickens and 15 rabbits at their home on Duley Creek Road off Carpenterville Road north of Brookings.

They’ve never had to deal with wildlife before — but they’re well aware of it, as bears and foxes have repeatedly caused trouble at their neighbor’s home.

After Jason fired a gun to scare the cat away, Darcie tried reaching a veterinarian to care for the wounded goat. When that didn’t work, she turned to Facebook’s Brookville.

“That’s where people gave us the information, that’s where people gave us advice,” Jason said. “We’ve never had to deal with anything like this.” 

Almost a dozen people responded to their plea for help — at midnight — suggesting people to call, first-aid advice, even a video on how to perform a Caesarian section.

“What’s really weird, we don’t know any of these people,” Jason said. “It was all a community effort.”

Opal was — she lived through the attack, but had to be euthanized at noon Friday — three weeks from giving birth.

Thursday night, the Gutierrezes weren’t sure she’d make it — and based on the information proffered online, were getting ready to deliver the kids by Caesarian section. The kids died as well, as they were too young to make it outside the womb, Jason said.

Opal suffered numerous puncture wounds from the cougar’s teeth and claws, a laceration that exposes her left shoulder blade and serious blood loss. The risk of transporting her to care in town was too high.

Until daylight, Darcie sat with her daughter, Mellodee, 14, and the bleeding goat. 

“Taking it one moment at a time, starting with some wound care and pain relief,” she posted on Brookville. “Then going to get her seen. Can’t move her yet.”

“The Caesarian would have to be done first,” wrote Scott Bryson. “Doing a Caesarian in the field would be a challenge, vet or not, and (you’ll)  likely lose the mom. … A major aspect will be transporting her to a vet, keeping her still on the way, and if they can get to her in time; it takes a team for that kind of work.”

Teamwork indeed.

Jason hid with his gun in anticipation of the big cat’s return. He didn’t have to wait long.

He heard the animal slinking through the brush, and shot off another round. The cat hightailed it through the undergrowth.

“I sat up till 4:30 waiting for it, but it didn’t show back up,” Jason said. “But from what I’ve heard, once they’ve tasted blood, know a wounded animal’s there, they will come back.”

On Friday afternoon a state trapper had scouted the property, determined the predator’s likely path and set a trap, Jason said.

“Our best shot at catching him is tonight,” he said.

The silver lining is that a second goat, Olivia, is due to give birth to twins Monday.

The Gutierrezes remain vigilant — even more so after finding a paw print with a 6-inch span.

“We had just talked about this two days ago, how lucky we’ve been,” Jason said. “We’ve never had a predator incident at our house. Literally 75 yards away from us are our neighbors with goats, chickens; a bobcat has been menacing them for almost two years. It’s killed several of their chickens and rabbits. And they’ve tracked this cougar and have never been able to get eyes on it. We know it’s here. And we have plans for him.” 

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