KAMLOOPS — Cougar sightings have been on the rise in and around the city in the last few weeks.
One sighting was reported Monday, April 7 in Kamloops, and recently a woman photographed two young kits near Pritchard.
The cougar and kits moved on without bothering anyone but Wildsafe B.C. Provincial Coordinator, and Kamloops resident, Frank Ritcey, says sightings have definitely increased, though it's not a complete surprise because deer sightings have also increased.
One of the reports listed within city limits notes the cougar was attracted to livestock, as was one of the two reports near Pritchard, but for the most part the cougars have simply been spotted and have not been harassing people or pets.
“Cougars are, for the most part, very well behaved,” Ritcey says. “They don't want to have anything to do with humans. Young cougars that haven't learned to hunt properly or older ones that can no longer hunt properly may focus on pets. They will take cats and dogs and there's little we can do to protect against that, other than to keep them indoors and watch them.”
He notes it is possible for a cougar to jump the fence to come after a pet, though they haven't had a lot of calls about that lately in Kamloops.
Now is the time to make sure attractants for all wildlife are managed properly and that includes bird feeders, a common attractant of bears, coyotes, deer and rats.
“Bears are waking up, even if it is a bit early still,” Ritcey notes, adding a bear was recently spotted in Westsyde close to Oak Hills. “If you have bird feeders, now is the time to take them down. They're notorious for attracting bears. Approximately 300 bear calls last year were due to them attracted to bird feeders and about six or eight of the bears destroyed last year were associated with bird feeders.”
Garbages also attract bears, which is why the city bear bylaw, which runs from the beginning of April until the end of November, prohibits garbage bins from being put out until the day of pickup. It is also recommended garbage is stored in a secure location, either a garage or shed. Pets should also be fed indoors.
“We live in a wildlife interface, and wildlife will be trying to make a living the best way they know how and it's our job to keep control of attractants,” he says.
Ritcey stresses the three bears and six cougars within city boundaries in the last four weeks have been reports and not verified by conservation officers. All reports are entered into the Wildlife Alert Reporting Program and can be viewed by anyone. The program also allows you to sign up for alerts, which will help you keep track of what is happening in your neighbourhood.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Jennifer Stahn at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email email@example.com or call 250-718-2724.