The B.C. Conservation Officer Service has had to put down a cougar on the prowl in a residential area of a Vancouver Island community on Wednesday morning.
It is believed to be the same animal that killed a house cat at the front door of a house in Comox on the weekend.
Conservation officer James Hilgemann told the Comox Valley Record that his colleague, conservation officer Steve Petrovcic, searched for the adult cougar Wednesday morning with dogs and found it. The animal had to be destroyed.
They believe it to be the same cougar looming near homes in Comox on the weekend and that killed a house cat. A woman posted on Facebook Saturday that the animal pounced on her 18-year-old house cat at her front door at an Anderton Road home. She ran out and threw rocks at the animal, which stayed nearby for two hours. Police attended the scene with guns drawn but were not able to shoot the animal.
“On Saturday it came fairly close to houses and did kill a house cat,” Hilgemann said. “On Sunday we ran into it on Perry Place, which is close by in the area.”
Another person reported the animal was seen Wednesday morning after it ran out from the bushes by mailboxes in an area close to where children catch a school bus.
While this part of Comox is residential, Hilgemann said, there is also an abundance of hobby farms nearby.
“It’s a good habitat for cougars, but our goal is to protect people first,” he said.
There is no indication garbage was left in the area to attract the cougar. Pet owners living in zones close to the wilderness are reminded to be careful when it comes to wild animals.
“People leave their cats and dogs outside and leave the safety of their houses, and unfortunately they become part of the food chain,” he said. “A few days ago a hobby farm nearby lost some chickens [to the cougar] and it was never reported. The area is full of hobby farms and deer, and that’s a perfect area for the these animals…. Hopefully [capturing this cougar] will put people’s minds at ease.”
Province-wide, according to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service website, the number of calls regarding cougars this time of year has dropped slightly since the beginning of the decade. For October 2018, the number was 240, up from just over 200 the previous two years, but down from the first half of the decade when the total ranged between 270 to more than 300. The same pattern holds for November, as there have been about 20-30 fewer calls in recent years compared with the first few years of the decade.
The B.C. Conservation Officer Service website includes guidelines on how to deal with a cougar interaction:
- Stay calm and keep the cougar in view; pick up children immediately. Children frighten easily and the noise and movements they make could provoke an attack. Back away slowly, ensuring that the animal has a clear avenue of escape.
- Make yourself look as large as possible and keep the cougar in front of you at all times. Never run or turn your back on a cougar; sudden movement may provoke an attack.
- If a cougar shows interest or follows you, respond aggressively, maintain eye contact with the cougar, show your teeth and make loud noises. Arm yourself with rocks or sticks as weapons.
- If a cougar attacks, fight back, convince the cougar you are a threat and not prey and use anything you can as a weapon. Focus your attack on the cougar’s face and eyes. Use rocks, sticks, bear spray or personal belongings as weapons.
(With files from Erin Haluschak)