Residents of a Kelowna, B.C., neighbourhood are on alert following two incidents where a cougar attempted to attack a dog.
In the last week there have been several reports of cougar sightings around Dilworth Mountain, Mill Creek, Leathead road and Houghton road areas, each come with pictures of a sizeable wild cat sauntering through yards.
“In the past 24 hours, the Conservation Officers Service has become aware of two incidences where a cougar attempted to attack dogs. In both cases it occurred during the night near the residences in the Sylvania crescent and Leathead road areas within the city of Kelowna,” the Conservation Office said in a press release.
“Domestic animals and pets similar in shape, size, and smell to wild prey – cougar may attack. Cougars are intelligent animals and learn to hunt through positive experiences. Cougar that have learned to hunt pets near residences, can threaten the safety of other pets in the neighborhood.”
The Conservation Officer Service has set up cougar live traps in the area and is recommending the following tips to the public to assist in preventing cougar attacks on pets:
- Cats and dogs are easy prey. Attempt to keep your pets indoors or secure them in a covered run, especially through the night.
- Residences should avoid feeding deer, feral cats or other prey species, which may attract cougars that might opportunistically attack domestic animals.
The British Columbia Ministry of Environment estimates the cougar population within B.C. to be approximately 7,000 animals. Even though cougars are seldom seen, the public should be aware they are present and at rare times travel through rural residential areas.
If you encounter a cougar
- STOP: Never approach or feed a cougar at any time for any reason.
- KEEP BACK: At least 100 meters.
- STAY CALM: Detour around any cougar, give it space and do not run. Maintain eye contact, never turn your back, speak in a confident voice and slowly back out of the area. Sudden movements may provoke an attack.
- KEEP CHILDREN CLOSE: Always keep children nearby and in sight. Pick up all small children immediately.
- AVOID WALKING ALONE.
- BE PREPARED: Utilize natural barriers and keep trees or other large obstacles between you and the cougar. Carry Bear Spray, a walking stick and noise makers to use for protection. Make noise to avoid surprise encounters.
- If a cougar approaches — stand your ground, appear large, make noise, hold your coat open, raise your arms and do not bend over or crouch down. Use a stick or rock and deploy your bear spray for protection.
- If a cougar attacks — fight back.
- PETS: Dogs may provoke a cougar attack. Keep pets on a leash or at home.
To report sightings or to obtain further information call the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277.