Cougars are wide ranging animals and may show up in Sparwood from time to time
If they are passing through it is important they do not find food that may encourage them to stay. Attacks by cougar are rare but can be fatal, especially if young children are involved. In all cases you must fight back as cougar attacks are always predatory and the cougar sees you as a meal. Use rocks, sticks or whatever you have at hand to protect yourself.
Deer are one of the cougar’s primary food sources. When deer are abundant in the area, especially in winter, then there is a good possibility to find cougars in the same area. They are “spot and stalk” hunters and extremely good vision. Cougars are secretive animals and are seldom seen by hikers.
What to Do if You See a Cougar
If you see a cougar that is watching you, maintain eye contact with the cougar and speak to it in a loud firm voice. Reinforce the fact that you are a human and not an easy target. Back out of the area and seek assistance or shelter.
Cougars are most active during the period from dusk until dawn and when in conflict, are usually young cougars that have not yet learned how to hunt efficiently or, are older cougars that can no longer hunt in the wilds.
Cougar Safety Tips
There are a number of things that you can do to keep cougars away from your neighbourhood, such as:
- Feed pets indoors, or if fed outdoors, bring in any uneaten food as pet food may attract cougars.
- Keep your pets indoors, especially at night. Cats and small dogs that are left to free-range, hunt small birds and rodents and, in turn, become prey themselves.
- Bird feeders can attract cougars. If the ground below the feeder is not kept clear, seeds can accumulate, attracting rodents and, in turn, attracting cougars other predators that feed on the rodents.
- If you keep chickens or small livestock use a properly installed and maintained electric fence. Store all your feed in a secure location and ensure feeding areas are clean and free of attractants (again, if the feed attracts rodents then the rodents, in turn, can attract cougars).
- Never feed deer or other possible prey species for cougars. While deer may be pleasant to watch, they can attract large predators such as cougars into residential neighbourhoods. As well, urban deer present their own set of problems to you and your neighbours.
Call the British Columbia Conservation Officer Service toll free at 1.877.952.7277 to report any incidents with cougars.
The WildSafeBC website and the Safety Guide to Cougars published by the Ministry of Environment are great sources of information about cougars and how to keep safe.