Cougar sighted in Coquitlam as snowfall brings big cat to town

Feb 18 2017, 5:00 am

A particularly curious cougar is causing concern on the streets of Coquitlam, prompting Conservation Officers to set up a trap in order to catch the big cat.

Conservation Officer Sharlene Syer told Daily Hive there have been three cougar sightings there lately. Most recently, a cougar took quite an interest in a local dog.

According to Syer, a man and woman were out walking their dog when the cougar appeared, and approached the dog to sniff it. The big cat fled when the man scared it away.

Syer said the big cat has shown no signs of aggression, but this is abnormal behaviour for a cougar and Conservation Officers (COs) are monitoring the situation closely.

“Cougars are normally apex predators,” said Syer. “They’re not usually seen during the day, they’re nighttime hunters, and it’s an odd behaviour for it.”

Snow brings cougars into town

Syer said COs have been getting a lot more calls about cougars in Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam recently – which she attributes to the unseasonable snow.

“Due to the snow, which we haven’t had here in the Lower Mainland for a while, it’s pushed the deer down the mountains,” said Syer. “The cougars of course follow the deer.”

If the cougar is caught, she said, it will be taken to the authorities so they can evaluate why it is displaying such unusual behaviour. Cougars are then often euthanized.

“Perhaps it has health concerns – or not,” said Syer. “Typically, they’re not relocation candidates because they have a home range, much like bears.

“If you put them in a different range, there might be fights between cougars and it’s not an ideal circumstance for sure.”

What to do if you see a cougar

Syer has high hopes that with the warm weather, the cougar sightings will dwindle as the cats chase the deer back up the mountains.

But in case you do spot a cougar, Syer advises you “become the cat” and look at its behaviour.

“If their ears are back on their head and they’re looking at you intently then that’s a bad sign,” said Syer. “Make yourself big, make sure you keep an eye on them, because you don’t want them stalking you or getting out of your vision, so keep your eye on the cougar.”

Syer also advises you show your teeth and even talk to the cougar.

“Make some noise,” said Syer. “I would suggest talking to the cougar, ‘Hey cougar, I’m a person, don’t touch me, don’t touch me,’ then back away.”

Since the cougar has demonstrated curiosity about dogs, Syer is advising people with pets in Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam to take extra precautions.

“They’re very curious animals, so you don’t want to bring them into your yard,” said Syer.

  • Don’t leave pet food containers outside
  • Keep dogs inside, especially small dogs
  • Do not allow dogs in the backyard alone
  • Remove bird feeders and shiny mobiles
Jenni SheppardJenni Sheppard

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