Over the course of the summer there have been a number of cougar sightings around the city, notably around Park Royal.
According to the Wildlife Alert Reporting Program on the WildSafeBC website, there were cougar sightings on July 17 and on July 21 near Mount Royal.
“We’ve had a couple of cougars sightings,” said Sonja Seher, Kimberley and Cranbrook Community Coordinator of WildSafeBC. “It’s just been one every couple of weeks, basically, that someone reports a cougar.”
Seher said it is nothing out of the ordinary, since Park Royal borders the Community Forest. However, while she said it wasn’t an exceptional occurrence, it is a good opportunity to let people know that since we live in a wildlife corridor, this type of thing can happen.
“We just took the opportunity to let people know because it had been going on, and basically reach out and let people know what is going on,” she said, adding that so far she’s had no reports of cougars going after any pets.
People who spot a cougar are advised to contact Conservation Officer Service, at 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP).
Seher liaises with the service and then advocates in the community.
“It’s possible for that to reoccur without conflict, if everybody knows what is going on and is being diligent with their pets, and things like that,” she said.
She said cougars differ from bears in that cougars are predators, while bears are more opportunistic.
The main times for a cougar to hunt are dawn and dusk.
“We always recommend that people keep their pets indoors at night — cats and dogs too,” she said. “Feed them indoors and keep their feed indoors, because animal food can be an attractant.”
Another thing WildSafeBC advocates for is for people to avoid deliberate or accidental feeding of cougar’s prey species like deer and rodents. That also means taking down bird feeders during the warmer months, as they can be a real attractant to a variety of species.
She said if you do encounter a cougar — as with any wildlife encounter — remain calm and don’t run away.
“Especially with cougars, because they have a pretty strong prey drive,” she said. “They’re ambush predators. That’s what they do, they jump on things that are turning and running from them.”
WildSafeBC recommends trying to make yourself as large as possible — raise your arms and talk to the animal, while also backing away. Also ensure the cougar has an escape route.
“If the cougar approaches, you respond aggressively because it is a predator,” she said. “It’s different with omnivores who might be reacting defensively. If a predator approaches you, you want to basically put up a fight.”
She also noted they now advocate for people who are carrying bear spray to use it on other wildlife as well as a deterrent.
For more information go to wildsafebc.com, or to report a sighting or wildlife conflict that may threaten the public contact Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP).