The Hope Mountain Black Bear Committee and local conservation officers have issued a cougar alert in the Hope area.
Numerous sightings have recently been reported, with the latest at the end of Acacia Drive on Aug. 15. A dog was also attacked by a cougar last week along the Fraser River near Wardle Street and there’s reports of another dog killed by a cougar two weeks.
“We live in wildlife country so the chance that cougars, bobcats or bears will go through town is natural. But they should definitely not stick around,” said Lydia Koot, chair of the Hope Mountain Black Bear Committee. “It’s really important that people do call it in if there’s a sighting.”
Residents are asked to stop feeding wildlife as rats, squirrels and raccoons are natural prey for cougars and bobcats.
“Be aware of the dangers you get yourself and the whole neighbourhood into by doing so,” said Koot. “You are attracting dangerous wildlife and could be subject to a fine under the Wildlife Act.”
According to the Conservation Officer Service, cougars seem to be attracted to children, possibly because of their high-pitched voices, small size and erratic movements. These character traits may make it difficult for cougars to identify children as humans and not prey. Parents are reminded to never leave children outside unsupervised, keep a radio playing, and make sure children are home before dusk and stay indoors until after dawn – the period of time cougars are most active. Pet owners are also reminded to not let their dogs run off-leash.
If you encounter a cougar, remain calm, keep the animal in view, and pick up children immediately. The Conservation Officer Service also recommends making yourself as a big as possible, never running or turning your back on the cougar, or making sudden movement. If a cougar attacks, fight back and focus on the cougar’s face and eyes.
If a cougar is spotted in the area, residents are asked to report the sighting immediately to 1-877-952-7277.