Just because people are hearing about cougars being around more often

Social media skews people’s perception of cougar numbers

Since the advent of social media platforms like Facebook, it’s never been easier for people to tell each other what’s going on around them.

But just because people are hearing about cougar sightings more often, doesn’t mean there are more cougars around.

Conservation Officer Mike Newton, based in Black Creek, says that yes, cougar activity has increased recently, but only because it’s the spring.

And that happens every year.

“It’s nothing that’s anything abnormal for this time of year,” he says, adding that cougar sightings are “on par” with previous spring seasons.

“We do tend to get increased activity at this time of year, when the grass greens up around town, and in the bush, the deer tend to move around and disperse – they aren’t held into their winter habitat so much – and when the deer are more mobile,  the cougars, as a consequence, are mobile too, so we do get increased sightings in and around the green space belts in and around Campbell River,” Newton says.

Part of the misconception that some have about increased numbers of sightings is definitely due to social media, Newton says.

“We’ve noticed, for sure, that people are using Facebook to report to each other what they’re seeing,” he says, but adds that while it’s a benefit for community members to know when cougars are around, it’s important for the Conservation Officer Service to be aware of them, as well.

“Sometimes, those people forget they should also call our RAPP (Report All Poachers & Polluters) hotline at 1-877-952-7277, and it’s critical that if people are seeing cougars in and around urban areas of Campbell River, they use that number to let us know.”