July 08, 2013 - 5:01 PM
A cougar was killed today after it was discovered lurking around residential backyards in Kamloops.
"It's the first one we've put down in the Kamloops city area this summer," said local conservation officer Kevin Van Damme. "The behaviour was a higher risk and a concern for public safety."
Van Damme said the young, male cougar was reported about five times in the last week and a half throughout the Batchelor Heights and Ord Road areas. He had been spotted by residents strolling around by day; a concern to VanDamme.
"Their natural behaviour is to hunt dawn, dusk, through the night," he said. "This guy was cruising through backyards at 11 o'clock in the morning."
The areas are largely residential, potentially risking the lives of children who are the ideal size to be hunted by cougars according to Van Damme.
Conservation officers located the animal this morning and assessed its behaviours before determining that the 50 to 60 pound cougar had been habituated.
"He was within feet and he didn't even move," Van Damme said. "We had to respond and unfortunately put the animal down."
Coming face-to-face with a cougar is uncommon, but it's always good to know what to do — just in case.
"The majority of the time when a cougar comes into contact… they just turn around and go the other way," Van Damme said.
However, the alternative is a bit frightening.
"They'll follow the person," Van Damme said.
He recommends maintaining eye contact and making yourself as big and loud as possible.
"You really want to be aggressive," he added.
He also recommends hiking in groups. While most animals just 'do their own thing' in their natural habitat, people who come into conflict or interaction with a cougar should report the incidents by calling 1-800-663-9453.
"We encourage them to call."
In addition to today's incident, Van Damme said a couple cougars have been put down in rural areas this year with concerns for livestock. For more information about safety among cougars, visit the Ministry of Environment information website.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013