Mar 4, 2013 / 3:38 pm
When Don Gemmell looked out his bedroom window Friday morning, he saw something he won't soon forget.
Just a few feet away on the deck of his Summerland home lay a large female cougar.
"It was right there, it would have been at my feet if there wasn’t a wall between us," he said of the animal which was later shot and killed by a conservation officer.
After seeing the cougar, he initially called his neighbours who own a dog that began to bark, and told them to get the dog inside.
When another neighbour showed up -- Frank Fenwick -- they took photos and waited for a conservation officer to arrive on the scene.
"It was calm as could be. It just looked like an oversized tabby cat," said Gemmell.
As activity increased, the big cat got spooked and ran towards some nearby goats, before running into a deer fence at the bottom of Gemmell's property.
It hid in some bushes and when conservation officer Bob Hamilton arrived, he and Fenwick walked down.
Hamilton said he initially followed the animal's tracks before looking at the deer fence to see if it jumped over.
It was then the cougar jumped out of the bush about a meter away, before running into a corner of the fence where Hamilton shot the animal.
“I didn’t even have time to get scared," he said. "It was more that I was concerned with the way the cougar was acting. It was familar and didn't appear to be afraid of people."
"A cougar is a very efficient predator and you just don’t know what is going to happen next."
Fenwick, who assisted with removing the animal from the location, said they see signs of cougars all the time at the Simpson Road location, but this situation was a rarity.
Both he and Gemmell were sorry the cougar died.
"It is a big disappointment to me that it had to be shot because they are beautiful animals," he said. "But when the cougar jumped out, it was only about a few feet away from him, (the conservation officer)."
Gemmell said it is most likely the animal was hungry and looking for food.
“It's not their fault, we are the ones encroaching on their habitat," he said. "It's sad and in another circumstance if it was more isolated it could have been tranquilized, but this was not the case and it was the conservation officer's call."
Hamilton said cougars are common throughout the Okanagan. but people don’t see them because they are nocturnal and secretive.
He advised that if (when) you run into them, treat the animal like you would an unfriendly dog.
"Make yourself large, act like you are the king of the jungle, not the cat, and don’t let the cougar think of you as prey,” he said.
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