There’s been several reported cougar sightings in the Hope area over the last month, but a local conservation officer says residents should not worry.
One was seen walking by Fraser Canyon Hospital on Dec. 21, while a pair of cougars were spotted along the Trans-Canada Highway as well as Ross Road on Jan. 12.
“This is the time of year you’re going to see them. The deer are basically yarded because of the snow levels. As the snow levels get deeper, the deer come down and the cougars follow them,” said Sgt. Steve Jacobi, with the Conservation Officer Service (COS). “They’ll stay right around the edge of town. Sometimes you’ll see them coming through town but for the most part, they’re not that dangerous.”
Once a cougar is caught in the open, they’ll likely just stand there and stare at a person. However, Jacobi recommends making yourself appear dominate and bigger by yelling and waving your hands above your head to avoid any problems. Cougars will generally walk away after that, he said.
Cougar sightings in the Hope area are not unusual at this time of year, given the community’s rural location. In addition to deer, cougars will prey on raccoons and rabbits. Jacobi said if they stick around and feel comfortable in town, they might start hunting house cats.
“The way that you know you have a real cougar problem is you start seeing them in broad daylight and on a very frequent basis,” he added. “What we’re really concerned about is if they actually get into conflict.”
Cougars don’t normally travel in pairs either. When they do, Jacobi said it’s generally two juveniles that have been kicked out of a group. They’ll stay together for as long as a year, sometimes even longer depending on how bonded they are, until they find their own territory and their way around.
For more information on cougar safety, visit the COS website at www.env.gov.bc.ca/cos/info/wildlife_human_interaction/docs/cougars.html
To report a conflict or unusual wildlife activity, call 1-877-952-7277.