There are five big cats that are native to Belize: the Jaguar, Jaguarundi, Margay, mountain lion and the ocelot. The Jaguars’ primary prey include monkeys, agoutis, deer, birds, fish, lizard, turtles, and other animals. The mountain lion also referred to as puma and red tiger in Belize consumes deer, but they do eat porcupines, raccoons, birds, small mammals, foxes, mice, and grass. But in the area surrounding Gracie Rock Village, they have found a new delicacy and it is the pets of residents in the community. Love News went to Gracie Rock and spoke to residents who say wildcats have been killing their beloved dogs.
Carlton Young – Goats Eaten by Tiger: “Gracie Rock is nice especially like right now, the enjoyment of Gracie Rock is the river, everybody comes and swims, they BBQ, they enjoy themselves. I keep my place clean so whenever somebody comes they can come and enjoy themselves. We have no problem here, no problem, no fighting, no police coming, no stealing, nothing.”
Jose Sanchez: “Most people visit Gracie Rock Village at mile 22 at the George Price Highway for the river. The idyllic village is home to pigs, chicken, cattle and lots of dogs. Villagers like Carlton Young says lately their pet dogs have become delectable meals for wild cats in the area.”
Carlton Young – Goats Eaten by Tiger: “You have some Jaguars and red Tigers, they come in the nighttime and they don’t care where the dog is, they come for them; in your yard, in your kitchen, anywhere, they will come for them. I only hear the dog bark out for help and that’s it, you don’t even see them again. I am worried about the kids too because maybe if they can’t get the dogs, the little kids are passing and coming to school or going home they might attack, you never know what could happen. We don’t want to until this happens and say we didn’t know these things would do these things like this but we have to be careful. Once I see them I won’t call anybody, I will kill them because I have sixteen goats and everybody disappeared and no one gave me back anything, it’s just that I never meet them, I never meet the Tiger. All the time those guys meet them and they say boy there is a Tiger around there but when I come I never meet them.”
Jose Sanchez: “Mountain Lions like this one at the zoo typically live in the forest that surrounds Gracie Rock Village. Sherie Hemmans’s family dog was recently taken by a cat with that particular skill set.”
Sherie Hemmans – Dog was eaten: “We are having this issue with the Red Tiger for a month now. It looks like it travels in the village at night, in certain areas. It started from the upper part of the village whereby at least five out of nine dogs were eaten by the Tiger and then it made its way down. About a week ago the last victim was Mr. Robinson whereby they went with one of his dogs also and along with Ms. Yvette Young, her dog was missing also. Now everyone has to lock up their dogs at night so we don’t have protection in our yard because we have to lock up our dogs at night.”
Jose Sanchez: “At this point, none of the cattle has been attacked?”
Sherie Hemmans – Dog was eaten: “Well, one of my father’s young calf was attacked about three weeks ago, right after birth, the tiger also came and caught him.”
Jose Sanchez: “Rayford Moore’s dog Diesel was eaten while still on its chain inside its dog house.”
Rayford Moore – Dog Owner of Diesel: “Well, actually the Tiger messes around with everyone’s dog up here. So far we have about eight to nine family dogs that have been hit by the Tiger. My one was chained right here by this pipe and around sometime last year I heard my dog bawl out and when I got up he was already dead but he couldn’t take him because he was on the chain.”
Jose Sanchez: “It was a pit bull?
Rayford Moore – Dog Owner of Diesel: “It was pitbull.”
Jose Sanchez: “Since then what have you done to make a change?”
Rayford Moore – Dog Owner of Diesel: “Well every night I have to keep locking up my dog. If you notice I have some to the back there.”
Jose Sanchez: “Do you think it is something that the authorities need to look into or do you just see it as a part of the circle of life and all of that?”
Rayford Moore – Dog Owner of Diesel: “I think the authorities need to look into it too because they don’t want you to kill them so I think we need some assistance from the authority, maybe from the zoo or the Minister that belongs to that wildlife thing.”
Sherie Hemmans – Dog was eaten: “No one has come to visit because I don’t think that anyone has made the complaint until now because it’s getting very serious to the point that we might not have any dogs in our village because the Tiger is getting very brave, even though we leave on our light at night it still comes in the yard. With my aunt, the Tiger was fighting with the dog on the step of her house.”
Jose Sanchez: “You know how some people would say you shouldn’t kill the wildlife but you see it differently. If the authorities found a way to either move them to a new location or to tag them or maybe come up with a solution such as electrified fences do you think any of those would work?”
Carlton Young: “Maybe you know but you raise your animal and you know the Tiger come and take them, then they come and tell you we will protect them, don’t kill them and they don’t give me back anything. I lose a lot: I lost my young calf, my goats and nothing I get from that so I said well and then sometimes people shoot them, kill them and leave them right there, at least do something with them.”
Jose Sanchez: “Gracie Rock residents have no choice but to lock up their dogs at night. Jose Sanchez for Love News.
Residents hope the Belize Zoo or some related agency can help them find solutions to their cat problem.