North Okanagan  

Pet eating cougars killed

Many in the small North Okanagan community of Grindrod remain on pins and needles after two male cougars went on a killing frenzy in the area.

According to Angela Geisbrecht who's collie was killed in a cougar attack last Thursday, 15 dogs in the Grindrod area had been attacked by the marauding cougars before the animals were taken down.

"We're just leery, very leery. When I walk to my car at night I have my boyfriend go out with his big flashlight and check - make sure we can walk back and forth," says Geisbrecht.

"We walk right past where it attacked her every day. I think we've just been lucky it hasn't attacked somebody's kid."

Geisbrecht says she was lying in bed about 2 a.m. last Thursday morning when the cougar attacked her dog.

She says after she cleaned up her dog she went back outside and the cougar was about 30 feet away from where the attack took place "just sitting there looking at us."

"We had shovels banging the ground and throwing things and it just sat there and stared at us and it didn't worry about us at all."

Geisbrecht says when she took her dog to the vet that morning she was told the attack caused a fractured skull and brain damage. She had to put the dog down.

Rita Beraro, a neighbour of Geisbrecht's also lost her dog to the cougar.

Her 14-year-old dog was snatched on the front porch Saturday night.

"That afternoon the conservation officer was over and told us we should be careful because there was a cougar alert around our neighbourhood - some dogs had been killed," says Beraro.

She says she was entertaining her grandchildren that evening when she heard a loud noise outside she thought at the time was ice falling from the roof.

A few minutes later she heard the noise again - it turned out to be the sound of the two cougars, in her yard, attacking her dog.

The cats killed, and ate her dog.

Dean Trumbley, a hunter who put down one of the cats, says these were not your typical starving cougars.

"I used to do predator control for the government and, typically when we had cougars come into an area it was usually a young male that was starving and had been pushed out by the bigger cats," says Trumbley.

"These two were trained by their she-cat mother and were thriving in this area."

Typically, Trumbley says the cougars they come across are usually 50 to 60 pounds, not these.

"These cats were big. They were like 130, 140 pound brothers," says Trumbley.

"Just recently it got really bad because they are getting bigger, but I think they had been working that area for a while based on some of the people we had talked to."

Conservation officers killed the other cougar the day before Trumbley shot the brother. 

While Trumbley says two other cougars have been spotted in other regions of the North Okanagan, he and conservation officials believe the Grindrod area is now clear and safe.

Conservation officials say this has been a bad year for cougar sightings and attacks.

Since March 31 of last year there have been 149 calls related to cougars in the North Okanagan. That's three time the number of calls over each of the previous three years.

There have also been 18 reported livestock kills and 16 pet deaths reported.

Two of the calls were for cougar interaction with humans. One of those resulted in a trip to emergency for one individual.

Conservation officer Mike Richardson says another cougar, believed responsible for the death of seven miniature horses in the Armstrong area, was caught and put down at the end of December.

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