It’s been nearly a week since several Rutland, B.C., residents reported seeing a cougar brazenly sauntering through their yards in the light of day and Conservation Officers haven’t heard anything since.
There have been “no new cougar sightings in the Rutland area since Oct. 31,” Conservation Officer Ken Owens said, in an email.
“Live traps (are) still set in the area and people are still reminded to take precautions to protect pets and be aware of cougar safety guidelines provided earlier,” Owens added.
The cougar was sighted several times in the Dilworth Mountain, Mill Creek, Leathead and Houghton road areas within Kelowna over the past week.
On Halloween, the Conservation Officers Service said that it had 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 and that’s when the traps were set.
Domestic animals and pets are similar in shape, size and smell to wild prey, and, as such, cougars may attack when they see them, the conservation officer said.
“Cougars are intelligent animals and learn to hunt through positive experiences,” he said. “Cougars that have learned to hunt pets near residences, can threaten the safety of other pets in the neighborhood.”
As for human contact, anyone encountering a cougar is advised of the following Conservation Office recommendations:
- Stop: Never approach or feed a cougar at any time for any reason.
- Keep back by at least 100 meters.
- 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.
- Always keep children nearby and in sight. Pick up all small children immediately.
- Avoid walking alone.
- Utilize natural barriers and keep trees or other large obstacles between you and the cougar. Carry bear spray, a walking stick and noisemakers 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, rock, walking stick 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 leave them at home instead.
To report a cougar sighting call the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277