Hunting with Hounds
Hound dogs are one of the most hard working, loyal breeds.Their friendly easy going nature make them excellent pets while their keen sense of smell, intense focus and stamina, make them exceptional tracking dogs and pack members.
The bonds that develop between a houndsman and his dogs, run deep. Each time they are out in the field, they learn from one another and become a more cohesive team. In fact, given their quarry, it could be said that they depend on one another for survival.
Enjoyment of the sport begins with choosing, raising and training pups. As the pups mature, houndsmen provide progressively more challenging opportunities for them to develop their skills. Longer and longer tracks are laid over increasingly more difficult terrain. It is exciting to watch a pack of dogs engage their sense of smell and figure out which direction their quarry has gone, as well as to hear them bay, as they run through the woods following a track.
The population of Cougars in Alberta is managed with hunting seasons to help maintain healthy populations, reduce conflicts with people, manage predation on wild ungulates and provide recreational opportunities. (My Wild Alberta website 2015)
It is legal for a licenced houndsmen to use dogs to track the largest North American wild cat, the Cougar, from December 1 to the end of February, in areas where the season remains open.
Ethical houndsmen do not make the decision to harvest an animal lightly. The sex of the animal is determined and its age is considered, before making a decision. This helps to maintain balance within the species population. The number of animals that are harvested each year by our members is small, in comparison to the number of cougars that are treed each season.
Alberta houndsmen play a vital role in cougar management. When an animal is harvested, it is taken to the local Fish and Wildlife office. An eye tooth is removed and a DNA sample is taken, so that biologists can gather information regarding the age, sex and health of the animal. This information is then used to guide future management plans.
Houndsmen also help local authorities when a cougar has been identified as a danger to public safety. Hounds are used to locate the offending animal, so that the situation can be resolved and public safety restored.