With two cougar sightings reported last week, WildsafeBC warns locals to keep their pets and children close.
The first cougar spotting came from the Trail area seven days ago, according to WARP (Wildlife Alert Reporting Program).
Then Montrose issued a warning to residents following a confirmed sighting on 7th Street late Tuesday night.
Since then, a pet cat has gone missing and a couple walking through Montrose Park reported seeing a feline head left at the site.
Grisly, but it’s not uncommon for cougars to hunt areas from Rossland to Trail and through the Beaver Valley, says the local WildsafeBC community coordinator.
“There’s definitely been an increase in sightings in the general area,” Sharon Wieder told the Trail Times Monday. “It seems there are more of them around the last few years, or people are just reporting it more.”
The large felines are hungry, putting food sources like family pets, at risk.
“They are coming down looking for food that’s why it comes into someone’s yard,” Wieder says. “The ones that end up in the more populated area would be either young and on its own or an older one who is not easily able to hunt – so they come looking for an easier source.”
A cougar’s main food source is deer, she pointed out.
“So if people are having deer around their yard, then the cougar would definitely follow.”
Wieder says the cats are also attracted to small animals like domestic felines and dogs, so she advises pet owners to keep their furry friends close, especially when out walking.
And what should a person do if they have a close encounter with a cougar?
“The best thing is to keep an eye on it,” she advises. “I always encourage people to carry walking sticks especially if a cougar does get too close, you definitely have to fight it off.”
She says bear spray will also help but only if the cat is hit in the face.
“And if you are out with children keep everyone together as a group,” Wieder said, mentioning the rule applies for black bears as well. “Because they will go after the smallest member.”
With increased wildlife encounters in general, she urges hikers to be aware of their surroundings.
“People are getting out more and more and the animals are getting used to them more than they would have in the past,” Wieder said. “All the new walking trails are great but more people are going where they wouldn’t normally tread,” she added.
“Honestly, the walking paths typically follow animal tracks because the animals want the easy path as well.”
Wieder encourages anyone who spots a cougar, especially if there is aggressive behaviour, to report it to the Conservation Officer at 1.877.952.7277.
After serving the area for many years as Rossland/Trail WildsafeBC community coordinator, Wieder is moving out of the area and will be replaced as the organization’s lead contact next week. For up-to-date information, visit wildsafebc.com.