ESPAÑOLA — A Chimayó landowner killed a cougar as it attacked his cat March 4, shooting the animal to death on his property, authorities said.

Darren Vaughan, spokesperson for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, said the landowner called the state agency to retrieve the cougar’s carcass.

It was not clear whether the man’s cat survived the attack.

Cougars, also known as mountain lions or pumas, are found in most parts of New Mexico —wherever there is an abundance of prey, rough terrain, and adequate vegetation to provide hunting cover, according to Game and Fish.

While cougars tend to avoid people, they can live in close proximity to humans, experts said. They tend to be more active when there is less human presence.

The cougar’s staple diet is deer. Cougars also prey upon rabbits and hares, bighorn sheep, elk, raccoons, turkey and porcupines. They may also prey on domestic animals such as livestock and pets, according to the agency.

The state’s cougar population has held steady since 2010, records show, with an estimated 3,123 to 4,269 independent adult cougars living in New Mexico. Cougar hunting is currently regulated by the state, which sets limits on when and where the animal can be legally killed.