Conservation officer attacked by cougar near Salmo

A local conservation officer suffered injuries while being attacked by a cougar Tuesday near Salmo.

A local conservation officer was attacked by a cougar Tuesday near Salmo.

The incident actually occurred on the second cougar-related call the officer attended that evening.

An officer from the West Kootenay Zone was sent to look into a report of an injured cougar. The officer located the animal which had been struck by a pick-up truck. The animal was suffering and Deputy chief conservation officer with the BC Conservation Service Chris Doyle reported, “The officer was able to humanely euthanize this cougar.” The cougar was an adult female in good health.

Immediately after the incident, the same officer responded to a second call. This one was a report of a cougar attempting to gain access to a home through a window approximately 10 kilometres from where the first cougar had been struck. While investigating, the officer was attacked without provocation. The officer was forced to kill the cougar in order to stop the attack.

The officer only sustained minor surface wounds to the skin and has already returned to work. Doyle stated that in his 23 years with the conservation service this is the first time he can remember an officer being attacked by a cougar.

The second cougar was described as an emaciated juvenile.

The Salmo region has seen a recent increase in cougar complaints. There have been 14 complaints since April, 10 of those occurring in February. Acting conservation officer in charge of the Kootenay region Toby Sprado explained that current snow conditions may have something to do with the increase.

“It is quite deep and generally the prey species are located in the valley bottoms … with the snow being non-compact, loose snow, makes it more difficult for predators to be able to prey efficiently … they start to come into communities looking for new food sources — generally pets,” he said.