Specially trained dogs assist conservation officers after North Okanagan cougar attacks | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Specially trained dogs assist conservation officers after North Okanagan cougar attacks

This picture of a male cougar was supplied by the Conservation Officer Service for this story.
Image Credit: Contributed/ Conservation Officer Service.
January 22, 2019 - 6:36 AM

LUMBY - Conservation officers euthanized a cougar in the North Okanagan after receiving reports of a dog and four goats being killed.

The Conservation Officer Service was first alerted last August that a cougar had attacked and killed four goats on a Shuswap River Drive area property in Lumby, spokesperson Ken Owens says in a media release.

Later, on Jan. 20, the service received a new report of a cougar killing a one year old border collie, also in the Shuswap River Drive area, Owens says.

Owens says the service received 18 cougar calls in the Lumby area from April 1, 2018 to present.   

Along with three dogs from the service’s K9 unit, conservation officers responded at first light on Jan. 21, Owens says.

The Provincial K9 Program, a division of the Conservation Officer Service, has trained canines to assist officers in addressing human-wildlife conflict to protect human health and safety, Owens says.

“These K9’s are utilized to respond to critical, high profile cougar attacks involving human injuries or fatalities, pet (and) livestock depredation involving cougars,” Owens says.

Cougars are intelligent animals that learn to hunt through positive experiences. A cougar that has learned to hunt pets and livestock near residences can threaten the safety of other pets and livestock in the neighbourhood, Owens says.  A cougar may attack domestic animals that are similar in shape, size and smell to wild prey.  

“The difficult part of a conservation officer’s job — the removal of wildlife from the population — is never an easy thing to do. Conservation officers assessed the situation carefully to determine the likelihood of the animal reoffending and or surviving,” Owens says.

Because the cougar was likely to attack again, officers decided to euthanize the animal, which was located a short time later near the attack location.

Conservation Officers are asking the public to keep a watchful eye on their pets and to report human-wildlife conflict occurrences to our RAPP line: 1-877-952-7277 (#7277 on your cell).

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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