UPDATE: The cougar was shot and killed Wednesday night, after Thursday's Times went to press.
The owner of a pair of alpacas killed by a cougar earlier this week believes her animals died defending their young.
Two female alpacas were killed Sunday night on the Ryder Lake property where they were grazing, but two cria (young alpacas) were unharmed in the attack.
The alpacas' owner, Sherry Enns, believes the mother alpacas sacrificed themselves for their young. Conservation officers have laid a trap for the cougar in case it returns to continue feeding on its prey.
Enns runs Ryder Lake Alpacas and Llamas along with her husband Perry, but her alpacas had been grazing on a Ross Road property when they were killed.
Enns's farm is a popular stop on the annual Ryder Lake Ramble, and one of the dead alpacas-named Cappy- was a star attraction. Enns said Cappy was abnormally friendly for alpacas, which are typically aloof creatures.
"She would come up and let people pet her and that's not something that I have in the rest of my animals," Enns said. "She was the one who would eat the most from all the kids.. .. This is the one who was the Ryder Lake experience."
Enns didn't want the attack to be blown out of proportion; she noted that Ryder Lake is a rural area and encounters with wild animals are not uncommon. But she did urge other Ryder Lake residents to make sure their animals are safe while the cougar remains at large.
Conservation officer Kyle Ackles agreed.
"People in the area should probably be a little vigilant," he told the Times.
Ackles said cougars that stray into populated areas are often younger males looking to establish a territory but being pushed away from home by more dominant animals. The alpacas would be an easy kill for such a creature.
There is no guarantee the cougar will be successfully captured, he said. If people encounter a cougar, Ackles said they should make lots of noise and, if in a group, stand closely together.
"Never turn your back on a cougar," he said.
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