Brian Lawrence/Creston Valley Advance
With no confirmed sightings since the first on Dec. 17, the BC Conservation Officer Service is no longer actively searching for a cheetah near Crawford and Kootenay bays, but the investigation isn’t over.
“We have spoken to a person of interest regarding our investigation into this,” said Insp. Joe Caravetta this morning.
Residents of Crawford Bay and Kootenay Bay were asked to be wary after a cheetah was spotted on Highway 3A around 4:30 p.m. Thursday near the two communities. The witness photographed the animal, which was wearing an orange cloth collar.
Creston RCMP worked with the Conservation Officer Service since the sighting in an attempt to safely locate the cheetah. Despite concerns raised on social media, the service plans to keep the animal alive and has arranged for a new home.
“We have no plans to kill the cheetah,” said Caravetta. “We fully intend if we find it to have it taken to the Calgary Zoo.”
The Conservation Officer Service said in a press release last week that a cheetah (Felidae Acinonyx) is typically shyer and less aggressive then other members of the big cat family (Felidae Pantherinae, which includes lions, tigers and jaguars).
Caravetta said the animal presents no immediate safety risk to the public. However, if the animal is spotted, authorities warn observers not to approach it but instead to call the controlled species unit of the Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277 to report the sighting.
With cold, snowy weather over the weekend, he said the cheetah may have found a warm place to stay, so it’s possible that it may still be at large.
“They’re not made for this climate,” he said.
He was impressed by the assistance the BC Conservation Officer Service received from area residents.
“We really want to thank the people in that area for helping us,” he said. “It’s been a tremendous support.”