It was just a normal Tuesday evening – except for nearly a foot of snow on the ground – when Tina Laguna pulled up to her home in the Tokul Road area of Snoqualmie. It was around 5:30PM and still light out. In a fuzzy glimpse, she noticed something running off into the woods surrounding her fenced-farm. Even that wasn’t uncommon in her rural area where she runs Rancho Laguna’s HEART, a program that rescues abused equines and rehabilitates them for the therapy programs.
It wasn’t until Tina found her family’s beloved goat Rebel dead in the snow that she realized what had just occurred – and that most likely what she saw was a hungry cougar fleeing the yard. Her car had interrupted the attack.
Tina said she knows attacks like this can be part of ranch/farm life, but to have it happen in daylight was out of the ordinary. And it didn’t make it any less heartbreaking as Rebel, an 8-year old, caramel Pygmy goat, was like part of the family.
The family also owns three dogs – two large German Sheperds and a terrier who constantly chase coyotes and bears from the property. After discovering Rebel in the snow, the dogs were found scared and hiding in the crawl space under the home, something not normal for them.
A Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife officer came to the family farm the following day, February 8th, to investigate the attack. Tina said it was very educational and also a hard lesson. Sgt. Stevens said animal owners need to be hyper vigilant during colder months. There should be no unsupervised roaming (even on fenced farms), which Tina’s goats commonly did. For now the ranch is on ‘lockdown.’
Sgt. Stevens said he was not positive if it was a cougar or a bobcat killed Rebel, only that whatever it was had large teeth because the canine teeth puncture wounds were very large. Tina said they aren’t sure how big the attacking animal was either – that there’s a chance it wasn’t that large because according to Stevens, a larger cat probably would’ve carried Rebel off the property when it fled.
Stevens offered advice to anyone who might encounter a ‘lion:’ make as much noise as possible because generally they run away as soon as they hear humans. He said leaving a radio playing low in a barn may also fool them into thinking it’s humans.
Tina said they plan to do things differently at the ranch for a while – especially since she learned a neighboring farm lost animals in January. All her small animals will be kept in their tall fenced pens when not supervised. She’s also planning to install some trail cams to keep an eye on things when she isn’t around.
While losing Rebel was like losing a family member, Tina said they’re also respectful of how nature works. After the attack investigation, she said they agreed to let Sgt. Stevens take Rebel out into the woods for other hungry animals.
But she also wants to let others know there’s a hungry animal in this area of Snoqualmie – and by telling Rebel’s story, hopes others can take precautions to keep their animals safe.