A B.C. conservation officer was attacked and injured by a cougar in the Kootenay region Tuesday evening.
At around 7 p.m., the officer responded to a complaint of a cougar trying to sneak into the window of a house in the community of Salmo, south of Nelson.
“While investigating this complaint, the conservation officer was attacked without provocation by a juvenile cougar,” said Deputy Chief Chris Doyle of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.
Doyle says the officer was forced to kill the animal in order to stop the attack. He received minor injuries, but is doing OK.
In another incident immediately before that, the same officer was responding to a call of an injured adult female cougar in the same community, approximately 10 kilometres from where the attack happened.
The officer located the animal that was struck by a vehicle and was forced to euthanize it.
Doyle says it’s not clear if the two incidents are related, but the cougar that attacked the officer was small and emaciated.
“It could be that this particular cougar got separated from its family for some time and could not hunt for whatever reason,” said Doyle.
Inspector Tobe Sprado with the Conservation Officer Service says there has been a spike in the number of complaints that they have received about cougars in the area.
Sprado says there have been 14 complaints since April in and around Salmo, 10 of which happened this month alone.
Doyle says he has been on the job for 23 years, but has never heard of a conservation officer getting attacked by wildlife.
“It’s very unusual and is a good reminder of the risks officers face when they respond to various human-wildlife conflicts,” he said. “It was fortunate that the injuries were not more severe given the nature of the attack.”
The Conservation Officer Service is continuing their investigation into the incident.