Cougar Killed In Atkinson County
Four men charged in shooting of western cougar that was in south Georgia after a research project released cougars in north Florida.
Four Atkinson County men have been charged in the killing of a western cougar. The south Georgia cat may have been the offspring of a cougar released to test the habitat for the possible release of the endangered Florida panther.
On Oct. 29, 1995, a dead cougar was found in a ditch north of Willacoochee. No apparent bullet wounds were found and it appeared that the animal had been hit by a car. However, the cougar’s tail, three paws, claws and several teeth were missing, leading rangers to suspect foul play. The carcass was shipped to Florida for an autopsy and X-rays revealed that the animal had been shot.
“A .270 caliber bullet had hit the animal in the eye,” said DNR Ranger David Nugent. “The bullet traveled down the neck and lodged in the chest cavity, so there was no apparent entrance or exit wound.”
Rangers began a quiet investigation, and soon tips began to come in, leading to the arrest of four individuals from Willacoochee on Nov. 6, 1995.
Bobby Terrance was charged with hunting cougars out of season and possession of illegally taken wildlife. Mike Nowles, Michael Moore and Jamie Chaney were also charged with possession of illegally taken wildlife.
According to Ranger Nugent, Mr. Terrance was deer hunting near a cotton field and saw the cat walking the edge of the field. The cougar turned and entered the woods near Mr. Terrance’s ladder stand, where it was shot from a distance of about 50 feet. According to Nugent, Mr. Terrance claimed he shot the cougar because he was afraid of it.
Investigators believe that the cougar was the offspring of one of the cougars released in north Florida as part of an experimental program to develop technology for the eventual release of the endangered Florida panther in north Florida.
All of the cougars in the release program have been recaptured.
The charges against the men are misdemeanors with maximum fines of $1,000 and and/or one year in prison.