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NEWSMAKERS 2014: North Okanagan cougars clash with humans

A Westside Road resident discovered this female cougar inside her home, chewing on a dog toy.
Image Credit: Contributed
December 29, 2014 - 2:30 PM

THIS WEEK, INFONEWS.CA IS COUNTING DOWN THE TOP FIVE STORIES OF THE YEAR. TODAY: NUMBER FIVE

VERNON - It may have been the year of the horse according to the Chinese Zodiac, but in Vernon, 2014 was the year of the cougar.

Between April and October, the Conservation Service received 186 cougar reports in the North Okanagan — equal to the total number in all of the 2012-2013 year, and we hadn’t even hit peak cougar season of December through March yet.

The first high profile cougar story of 2014 was in February, when an injured cat was seen prowling around Kidston Elementary School in Coldstream. Conservation officers tracked the cougar’s bloody footprints through the snow to Kal Park and put it down. Its front paw was badly hurt, possibly injured in a territorial attack with another cougar.

Four months later, a Westside Road resident returned home from a hike with her dogs to find a cougar inside her house, chewing on a squeaky toy. She wisely retreated to her vehicle and awaited conservation officers. They found the cougar hiding behind the washer and freezer—the dog toy still clutched in its mouth — sedated it, and put it down. The roughly one-year-old female cougar was in bad shape, likely separated from her mother and starving. Conservation officers said the cougar could not be relocated.

Later in the year, a group of four cougars — likely a family unit — was found stalking pets in the BX area of Vernon. One of them killed a small Chihuaha/Maltese dog, took it into a tree to eat it, and dropped the corpse at the owner’s feet. The distraught owner described the gruesome scene as something out of a Stephen King novel. Again, the conservation service was called, and the cougar was put down. Two other cougars from the group were also shot.

As we enter peak cougar season with the big cats descend from the snowy mountains in search of food, there are bound to be more conflicts with humans.

For more information about cougars in B.C., and what to do if you encounter one, click here.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infonews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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