The number of cougars destroyed by conservation officers in B.C. in the 2013-2014 fiscal year jumped dramatically compared with a year earlier.
The province’s Conservation Officer Service has released figures that indicate the agency destroyed 117 cougars between April 1 of 2013 and March 31 of this year.
That’s a 50 per cent increase over the 78 cougars that were put down by they service in 2012-2013.
Much of the increase appears concentrated in the late spring and early summer of 2013, when 56 cougars were destroyed between April 1 and July 31, compared with just 18 in the same quarter a year earlier.
That trend appears to have decreased somewhat this year, with 29 cougars destroyed between April 1 and July 31 of 2014.
Kamloops conservation officer Kevin Van Damme says there have been more conflicts between humans and cougars as populations of the big cats climb across the province.
He speculates it may be due to recent forest fires that brought down trees, creating more open spaces and grasslands. That, in turn, could have led to an increase in deer and moose and a corresponding jump in the number of predators.
The Conservation Service says there were 3,120 cougar sightings in 2013-2014, up roughly 10 per cent in one year.