January 20, 2014 - 9:47 AM
VERNON - You’ll want to keep your eye out for a big cat if you live on Okanagan Landing.
RCMP are investigating a report of a cougar on Longacre Drive, not far from Okanagan Landing Elementary School. In recent weeks, three cougars were spotted in Coldstream and two in Lumby.
RCMP spokesperson Gord Molendyk says the cougar was spotted in a Longacre Drive yard around 3:15 a.m. Due to the early morning hour, police, not the conservation service, responded.
“Quite often we get the call first,” Molendyk says.
Police officers attended the residence and conducted patrols around the area. They couldn’t find the cougar. The conservation service has been notified, and will check out the area today.
“We may not see this cat again,” Molendyk says.
Just in case, it would be wise for children to walk to school in groups and avoid greenbelt areas.
“We’re asking the public to be very vigilant,” Molendyk says.
Conservation officers believe deer are attracting the cougars. As their main source of prey descends the mountains to look for forage and relief from deep snow, cougars follow.
Due to the higher than normal number of cougar sightings, conservation officers are emphasizing education in local schools. Today, they’ll be visiting Coldstream students.
“If you educate the kids, sometimes they’ll educate the parents,” Lockwood says.
Lockwood says a cougar spotted a couple weeks ago near Coldstream Elementary School has not returned. It appears the cougar may have relocated to Kal Park.
“There have been lots of sightings in the park,” Lockwood says. “If it’s staying in the park, then that’s a good thing.”
By putting down two other cougars in the area, Lockwood says they may have helped create territory for the third cat. Cougars are extremely territorial and will fight cats who move into their area, often to the death.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Heston at firstname.lastname@example.org, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014