After reports of a cougar sighting in the Kawkawa Lake area, conservation officer Eric Tyukodi is reminding people to report any such sightings to the province’s wildlife reporting hotline.
The cougar was reportedly spotted on Lakeview Crescent and Park Avenue last week. Tyukodi said while cougar spottings are not uncommon in areas around Hope, they are elusive and shy creatures – people frequenting the B.C. backcountry could go their whole lives without seeing one.
Tyokodi said the latest spotting was not reported to conservation officers. The last reported sighting in Hope, Tyukodi said, was July 22, 2019. There was also a possible sighting around Chawathil First Nation, he added, and a resident of the Cariboo Trailer Park in Dogwood Valley also reportedly had a cougar on their roof earlier this year.
The best way to ensure cougars stay away from residential areas is to minimize attractants. Unlike bears which are attracted by garbage and other sweet-smelling liquids and fruits, attractants for cougars include small dogs and housecats, as well as livestock and other farm animals.
“(Cougars) do occasionally come into higher settled areas. The important thing people need to realize is, they have very big areas and they move around a lot. So people need to manage their attractants, especially house cats,” he said. “House cats that are left to roam outside are a very big attractant for cougars.”
When there are housecats outside, cougars may get comfortable hunting for them and coming very close to settled areas. Small dogs also need to be kept inside at night, and these pets should not be fed outside either.
Sheep, goats, ducks, chickens and other livestock are also attractants for cougars, Tyukodi said. An electric fence or a night pen are recommended, he added.
While cougars breed throughout the year, there is always a possibility to see them. However, with more scarce prey during the winter cougars may be more active and attracted to livestock or other small house pets during this time Tyukodi said.
If you see a cougar or other wild animal in your community, call the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line at 1-877-952-7277.