West Kelowna  

Big cougar visits West Kelowna

West Kelowna resident Don Martin was looking out the window of his Gates Road home Tuesday morning when he saw something that took him by surprise.

Off in the distance, there was a big cougar lying in a tree.

He immediately contacted family members, who arrived on the scene soon after with a camera.

"I was excited because I had never seen a cougar so close before," said Stephanie Whiting, who stood nearby as her dad Doug Tracey took photos of the big cat.

The animal did not move the whole time, even though there were people and deer nearby, she said.

At about 3:30 p.m., it crawled down the tree and headed off into the forest.

Barb Leslie, inspector of the Okanagan region for the BC Conservation Officer Service, said they do see cougars throughout the Okanagan, mostly in rural areas and areas where there is a high deer population.

To avoid any problems with the large animals, people are advised to make noise while walking on trails and keep dogs on leashes.

If they do see a cougar, they should make themselves as big as possible, keep the animal in front of you at all times  and maintain eye contact while you back out of the area.

They can report sightings to the conservation officer at 1-877-952-7277.

 Other guidelines provided on the Ministry of Environment Web site include the following:

Pick up children immediately - children frighten easily, the noise and movements they make could provoke an attack. 

If a cougar attacks, fight back.  Convince the cougar you are a threat and not prey.  Use anything you can as a weapon.  Focus your attack on the cougar's face and eyes.

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