October 03, 2014 - 1:00 PM
NORTH OKANAGAN - A cougar preying on house cats in a North Okanagan subdivision marks yet another big cat encounter in what has been a busy year for the conservation service.
Sgt. Josh Lockwood of the North Okanagan Conservation Service says the latest cougar was spotted two weeks ago in the McLeod subdivision, north-east of the City of Armstrong in the Township of Spallumcheen. In the last week, the cougar started preying on house cats. Lockwood says a cache where the cougar devoured at least two cats was discovered a couple hundred metres from the residential area.
A live trap was set, but Lockwood says the cougar hasn’t been seen in a few days, possibly having returned to the wild.
“It maybe came and dined on a few domestic pets and left,” Lockwood says. “Cougars have a 50 square kilometre radius and will come and go. (The subdivision) is on the edge of a rural/urban interface area.”
That cougar is just one of 186 reports in the North Okanagan since April 1. In contrast, the 2012-13 year received the same number for the entire year.
“We haven’t even hit cougar season yet,” Lockwood says.
The number of cougar complaints fluctuates from year to year (2013-14 had a total of 250 reports) but Lockwood says this year is shaping up to be one of the busiest in a while. Peak cougar season is from December to March when the cats are driven down from the mountains looking for food. Depending on the winter, cougar complaints could skyrocket over that time period. If there’s a lot of snow in the mountains, they’ll likely follow their food source, deer, into the valley bottom, where they clash with humans.
Approximately seven cougars were put down in the North Okanagan so far this year, including three that were preying on pets in the BX area of Vernon. Lockwood says it’s hard to pinpoint the reason for the upward trend in cougar complaints.
“I don’t have the answer,” Lockwood says. “That’s a biological question.”
For more information about cougars in B.C. and what to do if you encounter one, click here.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014