The rogue cougar that has been terrorizing the Kawkawa lake area was taken down by authorities Monday night, after a public warning had been issued for Hope residents to be aware of the animal.
The cougar was believed by conservation officer Don Stahl from Chilliwack to be a male teenager looking for an easy source of prey, and had injured and killed a couple of domestic pets.
Lydia Koot from the Hope Mountain Black Bear Committee and Stahl met up with The Hope Standard to ensure the message got out in an effective and timely manner. Koot placed posted warnings on her site and through Facebook, while placing posters around town.
The first sighting of the cougar happened at 10: 30 a.m. last Wednesday morning on the Kettle Valley Trail, when a woman walking her five month old lab pup ran into a cougar standing in the middle of the path.
With its predatory gaze fixed on the vulnerable and exposed pair, the animal backed away with some assertive encouragement from the woman, and was considered to be a non-threatening encounter after it was reported to the RCMP and the BC Conservation Officer.
However, over the past couple of days, the cougar took an aggressive and predatory stance with the killing and injuring of pets, and the RCMP were on alert to destroy the animal on sight.
“We can’t safely relocate the animal, and with the killing of a dog and cat already, the animal has become a liability,” said Stahl.“It is better to have a dead cougar than a dead child.”
The public was asked to pay attention to the trees (which cats are often fond of climbing,) to watch their children closely and to keep pets on leashes.
Stahl has a few safety tips if an encounter happens with a cougar:
Never turn around and run (only a food source runs,) back away slowly while raising your arms and yelling and screaming at the animal. Pick up rocks and sticks while being prepared to defend yourself; never, play dead because the cougar considers you a food source unlike a bear. Always fight back, and be sure to return to a safe location as soon as possible.
Though tragic for the dead cougar, public safety is the number one priority for officials when dealing with wildlife according to Stahl. If you see a cougar please contact the local RCMP and conservation officer Stahl at 1 877 952 7277.
For more information regarding wildlife encounters and protocol please contact Lydia Koot at Hopemountain.org/conservation.