Princeton RCMP officer forced to shoot cougar - InfoNews

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Princeton RCMP officer forced to shoot cougar

FILE PHOTO- A police officer in Princeton was forced to shoot a two-year-old cougar after being sighted in a Princeton neighbourhood twice yesterday, June 2, 2020.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Michelle Jean
June 03, 2020 - 7:00 PM

A Princeton RCMP officer dispatched a cougar in the community yesterday after a search for the cat was prompted by two sightings.

Sgt. Rob Hughes of the Princeton RCMP says the detachment was notified of a cougar moving through someone's backyard in an outlying residential neighbourhood around 10 a.m. yesterday, June 2.

Officers from the Conservation Officer Service in Merritt were called as Princeton officers patrolled the neighbourhood on foot and by vehicle, but failed to find any sign of the cat.

“We thought maybe it had been just passing through, but as we were discussing the incident with conservation officers, another sighting of the cat was reported around 2 p.m.,” Hughes says.

Conservation officers and police split up in a search of the area. Hughes says he was on his way back from a nearby ridge when he “felt something.”

“I turned around, took a few steps back and saw the cougar 40 metres behind, skulking, following my tracks,” he says. “i don’t know if it would have attacked me, but it wasn’t worth the risk to human life, with two sightings, in a neighbourhood with kids playing in the middle of the day."

He shot the cougar, which was a healthy, 80 to 90 pound two-year-old male.

“I expected it to run away, but it just sat there, looking at me. It’s quite unnerving to turn around and see a cat that big following in your footsteps,” he says.

Hughes says there has been three cougar sightings in the town so far this year - two yesterday and one a week ago in which a resident was followed from the Deerfoot Motel at 4 a.m.

Hughes says it isn’t unusual for conservation officers and RCMP to jointly deploy in situations where conservation officers might be an hour or more away, as is the case in Princeton.

“I’ve lived around here my whole life, and spent thousands of hours in the bush. I’ve never seen a cougar in the wild before,” he says.

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