Cat kills lead to two cougars being put down

Cougar kittens followed unusual behaviour patterns in Slaterville situation, conservation officers say

Over the weekend, conservation officers destroyed two cougars that had been killing cats on the Slaterville side of Cranbrook.

On Friday Karen King found two dead cats outside her home on Briar Avenue. She called the conservation officers (COs) who came to look at the cat carcasses.

“We confirmed that, yes, cougars were involved with killing domestic cats,” said Jared Connatty, one of the COs who responded to the call. “During that investigation we found that two cougars had been hanging around for a few weeks before we were notified.”

The domestic cat killings were close to town, and the COs took the situation very seriously. They deployed tracking hounds at the last known location of the cougar and the scent lead to two juvenile cougar, both around 10 months old.

“No mother was present in the area — we didn’t pick up any other scent leaving that site,” Connatty said. “There’s a high likelihood there’s no female around.”

He said cougar kittens don’t usually leave the mother until between 16 and 18 months of age. These kittens were too young to be away from the mother. He noted that could have been the reason the cougars were taking part in such odd behaviour.

“If the female is still around it’s concerning, because this is what she’d been teaching them. So maybe there’s something wrong there as well,” he said. “But we haven’t received any reports of a female or lone cougar wandering around that area.”

Connatty said there’s a misconception that a cougar kills for fun.

“If you have multiple animals, and a cougar is targeting one of them in a situation where those animals can’t escape, a cougar has a switch that goes off in its mind,” he said. “Once the cougar takes out the first animal, it can’t just turn that switch off, since things are still moving. It is naturally driven to stop things from moving when it is in that hunt mode.

“I think this happened over an entire evening and they capitalized on opportunities that domestic cats were in the area and killed those cats,” he said. “Cougar do have that fight or flight switch and if they are engaged in pursuing prey, they are generally successful in doing that. They are really effective killers. “

Connatty said that they found in the investigation that some residents in the area may have been aware of these cougars and either didn’t report it, or reported it to the wrong authority. The place to call to report a sighting of cougars or other wild animals is 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP).

“Just because you call that number doesn’t mean we’re going to respond with action in every incident that’s reported,” he said. “It’s good for us to have a history of those complaints; it  helps us with our decision making.”