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Take measures to reduce human-wildlife conflict in wake of Kelowna cougar sighting: official

Click to play video: 'Prowling cougar spotted on home surveillance in Kelowna, B.C.' Prowling cougar spotted on home surveillance in Kelowna, B.C.
A prowling cougar was spotted on home surveillance video in the Gallagher's Canyon golf course community in Kelowna, B.C. Conservation officials say there is nothing to fear as attacks on humans are rare, but measures should be taken to reduce the risk of human-wildlife conflict. (Raw video). – Feb 7, 2021

Conservation officials are encouraging residents to take measures to reduce human-wildlife conflict after an adult cougar was spotted on home surveillance video in a Kelowna golf course community.

The cougar was captured prowling past a home in The Village at Gallagher’s Canyon during the early morning hours of Feb. 1.

The homeowner provided the video to Global News, but said he did not want to be identified.

Read more: Warning signs posted following cougar sighting at south Kelowna park

The resident said he’s lived in the community, framed by forested mountains and rocky bluffs, for twenty years, and has never spotted a cougar, until now.

The homeowner is sharing the video to alert the neighbourhood, he said.

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Kelowna conservation officer Ken Owens said his office has received several reports of the prowling cat, and in general, there is nothing to fear.

Click to play video: 'North Okanagan woman surprised by cougar encounter' North Okanagan woman surprised by cougar encounter
North Okanagan woman surprised by cougar encounter – Apr 22, 2019

“That particular area is good cougar habitat, always has been and always will be,” he said. “We live in very close proximity to that habitat and often within that habitat, so it’s really important that we as people do our best to co-exist with the wildlife that is here within the city.”

Owens said the cougar spotted in the golf course community has not stalked or threatened people or pets, to their knowledge.

He does encourage residents to take steps to reduce human-wildlife conflict.

Read more: Cougars caught on camera in the north Okanagan

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Cat and dog owners should bring their pets in at night, and if they’re kept outside, to ensure they are sleeping in a cougar-proofed pen.

Owens said the cougar may have been drawn to the area because of the urban deer population, which it preys on.

“Cougars are normally nocturnal and typically prey on available food source within the area they live in and the diet can include deer, moose and sheep,” he said.

Click to play video: 'Cougars caught on camera in the north Okanagan' Cougars caught on camera in the north Okanagan
Cougars caught on camera in the north Okanagan – Feb 27, 2019

Owens said the forest fringe area to the city has a high deer and moose population.

He said people should stop feeding deer, which attracts them to residential areas and in turn, attracts cougars.

He encouraged residents who spot a cougar to never approach it, as it may have kittens or prey that it instinctually wants to protect.

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“Stay calm, maintain eye contact, speak in a confident voice and slowly back out of the area, don’t run, sudden movements may provoke an attack,” Owens said.

Those who encounter a cougar should make themselves appear large, he added.

Read more: Cougar sightings force closure of Kelowna park

“Don’t bend or crouch down, raise your hands, hold your coat open, utilize natural barriers, and most importantly just create space and distance,” Owens said.

Backcountry enthusiasts can carry deterrent sprays, walking sticks or noisemakers, he said.

Cougar attacks are rare, but if physically targeted by a cougar, he said to fight back.

Click to play video: 'Doorcam video of cougar slinking through B.C. carport' Doorcam video of cougar slinking through B.C. carport
Doorcam video of cougar slinking through B.C. carport – Feb 27, 2019

“In British Columbia, cougar attacks are extremely rare on people,” Owens said.

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“We have less than one injury attack annually in our province with a person and a cougar, and we have approximately 7,000 cougars and 4.6 million people.”

A Vernon-area cougar was recently put down because it was killing livestock, Owens said.

The BC Conservation Officer Service recorded 84 cougar sightings in the Kelowna-area last year. This year there have been 74 sightings.

Cougar and other wildlife sightings can be reported on the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277. 

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