A mid-Island woman who contacted the province about euthanizing practices for cougars is hoping conservation officials do not have to destroy a young one in the area.
The animal followed a couple of house cats to a Fanny Bay home on the morning of Monday, April 19, looking inside the house and hissing.
Tiffaney Daniels had heard that conservation officers had a policy to euthanize the cougar. Particularly because it is young, she decided to contact her MLA Josie Osborne, the deputy minister of environment and the minister of environment to ask for an alternative, such as having the animal relocated.
By mid-week, she had a conversation with Insp. Ben York, officer in charge of the West Coast region, who told her relocation is not effective as the animals roam over a large area, which on Vancouver Island would likely put it close to human settlements.
“Cougars have huge home ranges,” he told the Record.
He explained that euthanizing is not the only approach, nor is there any single regional policy.
“It’s definitely a sliding scale,” he said.
York said conservation office staff use a decision-making matrix, with much depending on the behaviour of the young animal. The best case is that it will not become acclimatized to humans and will leave for the wild, as cougars typically do.
“The hope is that the animal just goes away,” he said.
The challenge is if the animal continues to come around settled areas, looking for prey such as domestic cats, and it starts hissing or does not act scared of humans. In this case, there is some anecdotal evidence the animal has come into contact with other house cats.
There have been other sightings in the Fanny Bay area. York said that on Wednesday morning there was a cougar in a backyard but a dog treed it and it left the area.
The key, according to York, is to make surroundings uninviting to wild, predatory animals like cougars. That might mean having a large dog scare them away, as well as making sure small domestic animals are kept inside and small children do not wander freely in areas a cougar might be lurking.
Daniels, herself, has had to listen to her house cat being killed by a wild animal, so she knows the threat a cougar can pose.
“They’re fast, and you don’t know they’re there,” she said.
She is hopeful it will move somewhere remote. In the meantime, she will be trying to encourage people in the Fanny Bay area on social media forums to keep their pets indoors, bang pots and pans or make noise if they see a cougar or in some way let the wild cat know it is not welcome.
York encourages anyone who sees an animal to report it on the province’s Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) hotline at 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP) or #7277 on the TELUS Mobility Network.
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