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Cougar killed after attacking 2 dogs in Ha Ling Peak, East End of Rundle area

Click to play video: 'Cougar killed by Alberta officials after attacking 2 dogs' Cougar killed by Alberta officials after attacking 2 dogs
WATCH: Alberta Parks officers had to shoot and kill a cougar after it attacked two dogs near Canmore. Christa Dao reports. – Oct 3, 2019

A cougar has been shot and killed after two reported attacks in the area of the Ha Ling Peak and East of Rundle hiking trails in Kananaskis Country.

According to Alberta Environment and Parks spokesperson John Paczkowski, there were three reports of cougar sightings on Wednesday in the area — all within a short period of time.

The first came from a woman who was walking her dog on a leash on the Ha Ling trail.

“She had headphones [in], noticed her dog was pulling back, turned around to see a cougar at close proximity,” Paczkowski said. “She was able to get her bear spray out and deployed the bear spray which stopped the cougar attack and the cougar actually sort of bounced away, as it was described.”

The dog was not seriously injured.

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About an hour later, as officers were investigating the scene and putting up signs, Paczkowski said they were made aware of another, fatal attack.

“[The woman] had been coming down an adjacent trail, they had had their dog off-leash on a trail, they did not have bear spray and a cougar came, attacked and took their dog,” he said.

Soon after, they received a report from people on the same trail who said they saw a cougar nearby. When officers went to investigate, they found a cougar feeding on a small dog, which was dead.

The animal was then shot and killed by the responding officers.

Paczkowski said response protocols vary depending on the animal and situation, and in this case, it came down to safety of the public.

“In this case, a few of us conferred beforehand over the phone and decide that because it was a public safety concern and an animal had been involved in two attacks on dogs in short proximity in a short period of time, if we had the chance, we would destroy the animal,” he said.

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READ MORE: Kananaskis Country’s popular Ha Ling hiking trail reopens with improvements

In an advisory on the Alberta Environment and Parks website, the government said the area was closed and that a dog had been attacked by a cougar.

Paczkowski said that closure would remain in place as officials conduct their investigation and rule out any further safety concerns, like other potentially dangerous animals in the area.

None of the people involved in the incidents were injured, Paczkowski said.

Paczkowski said this time of year is hard for cougars, because the animals they usually eat — ungulates like deer and sheep — are in prime form, meaning they’re harder to catch. He said the animal that was killed was a healthy juvenile male that was on the thinner side, weighing about 75 pounds. A necropsy is scheduled to determine if there are any other pre-existing health concerns or issues that could have led to the attacks.

Paczkowski said the incidents underscore the need for people to be prepared for surprise encounters with cougars and any other wildlife that live in the mountain parks, and most importantly, to carry bear spray.

Tips to avoid a surprise cougar encounter include:

  • Making plenty of noise
  • Be aware of surroundings and watch and listen for signs of cougars or other wildlife
  • Keep pets on a leash

More information on cougar safety can be found on the Alberta Environment and Parks website or through WildSmart.

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