Cougars are Canada’s largest wild cat and their habitat is disappearing as areas are developed for commercial or residential use.

MARS MOMENT: The elusive, solitary mountain lion

Wildlife stirs many emotions in us from awe, compassion and often fear

Wildlife stirs many emotions in us from awe, compassion and often fear and we should always treat them with great respect.

Each year as fall progressess, many species are preparing to migrate to their winter breeding grounds, others remain in our local areas year round and fall is the time for them to prepare their bodies for the hardships winter will bring.

Over the last few weeks there have been confirmed sightings of cougars in the Comox Valley and this has resulted in local schools taking extra precautions to keep the students safe.

Cougars are usually elusive, solitary, mysterious creatures that often get a bad reputation for unprovoked attacks.

Also known as mountain lions and pumas they are Canada’s largest wild cat. They have sleek, muscular bodies and long tails which may represent one third of their total body length.

Adult male cougars can weigh between 140 and 200 pounds, the smaller females weigh in between 90 and 120 pounds, the largest of these cats are found in the Interior of B.C.

Cougars need a territory covering 175 square acres for a large male. He will mark his boundaries with a scent from urination and feces.

Females do not need such a wide area as they tend to stay close to their den.

Habitat for cougars includes open areas with nearby rocky outcrops or brush and treed areas where they can hide and stalk their prey.

Unfortunately, much of their preferred habitat is disappearing as areas are developed for commercial or residential use.

In addition, this expansion also provides a dwindling habitat for their favorite prey, the black tailed deer.

Proficient tree climbers, cougars can jump 20 feet from a stationary position and jump down to the ground from a height of 60 feet.

They use the trees for a resting spot with a perfect view of potential prey.

Although their favorite food is deer, they will also snack on rabbits, beaver, raccoons and occasionally sheep or other young farm animals.

Cougars prefer to hunt at dusk and dawn, but they can roam around at any time of day and in any season, two-year-old cougars are more prevalent in spring as they become independent searching for a place to adopt as their territory.

Cougar tracks are very visible in soft ground.

Like all cats they are equipped with retractable claws which are not visible in their footprint unlike dogs and bears that leave claw prints.

Cougars are definitely unpredictable and it is not clear what triggers an attack from this animal.

They do seem attracted to small children whose high pitched voices, small size and erratic movements may cause them to think they are prey.

The following are some safety recommendations from Environment Canada in order to lessen the chance of attack:

  • Do not let your children walk alone in wooded areas or trails where cougars have been sighted.
  • Supervise your children when playing outside and inform them how they should react if they encounter the cat.
  • Do not feed deer or raccoons that may attract a cougar in your garden.
  • Keep pets indoors and keep dogs on a leash when out walking.
  • Never approach a cougar.
  • Always provide the animal with an escape route.
  • Stay calm and talk with a confident voice!
  • Pick up small children and keep them calm.
  • Do not run, back away slowly, sudden movement may trigger an attack.
  • Do not turn your back on the animal, try to appear as big as possible.
  • Carry a stick or throw rocks, people who fight back have survived cougar attacks.

Hopefully, you will not encounter a cougar other than from a safe distance, which can be an awesome experience.

This is also the time that bears are preparing to hibernate and are out scouting for an easy meal.

Keep garbage secure and clean up fallen fruit from under trees. Carry sticks and or bell to alert the bears to your presence make as much noise as possible, never turn your back or run away also avoid making eye contact with the animal as this is perceived as threatening behaviour. Report all sightings to the local Conservation Service at 1-877-952-7277.

To report injured wildlife or other wildlife advice please call 25-337-2021 or visit our web site, www.wingtips.org.

 

Just Posted

Diver discovers possible historic anchor off Campbell River

The rusted, barnacle-encrusted anchor was wedged into the bottom off Quadra Island… Continue reading

Cold weather puts pressure on homeless shelters in Campbell River

Salvation Army and Sobering Centre offer a total of 40 beds

Back to school for Vancouver Island’s snow-covered kids, more snow coming

All school districts in business this morning but officials warn another 5-10 centimetres today

Comox Strathcona Waste Management looks at tipping fees

Fees part of planned review that could offset future tax hikes in regions

City of Campbell River responds to BCTS intention to continue Snowden harvesting plans

Yet another call for the province to halt timber harvest activities until long-term plan is in place

VIDEO: Canada’s flag turns 54 today

The maple leaf design by George Stanley made its first appearance Feb. 15, 1965

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Plecas won’t run in next election if B.C. legislature oversight reforms pass

B.C. Speaker and Abbotsford South MLA says he feels ‘great sympathy’ for Jody Wilson-Raybould

Workshop with ‘accent reduction’ training cancelled at UBC

The workshop was cancelled the same day as an email was sent out to international students

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

Man in Vancouver Island hotel shooting pleads guilty to second-degree murder

Brandon Tyler Woody, from Victoria, to be sentenced in late March in B.C. Supreme Court

Judge rules Abbotsford home must be sold after son tries to evict mom

Mom to get back down payment and initial expenses

Trump officially declares national emergency to build border wall

President plans to siphon billions from federal military construction and counterdrug efforts

Snow turns to slush, rain as it warms up across B.C.’s south coast

Some areas are already covered by more than half a metre of snow following three separate storms

Most Read