Cougar traps set up in Rutland after two dogs nearly attacked

Cougar goes after dogs

Madison Erhardt

Cougar traps have been set up in an area of Rutland near Sylvania Crescent and Leathead Road, not far from Ben Lee Park, after a big cat got a little too close for comfort.

The animal was spotted in the area a number of times in recent days, but its latest attempts at finding dinner prompted the BC Conservation Officer Service to act.

A man posted a picture on a Rutland Facebook group of a cougar in his backyard Sunday morning.

“Primarily, most of the sightings are nocturnal, but yesterday afternoon we had a daylight sighting in the late afternoon," said Ken Owens, Conservation Officer. "And then last night, this morning the cat attempted to attack a dog in somebody’s backyard ... It wasn’t successful in doing that because people protected the dog, ensuring that that didn’t happen.”

Owens says there was a second similar incident reported as well.

“So the message going forward is people really need to protect their pets in their backyards," he said. "Make sure they bring them in and not leaving them out in their backyards, especially in this particular neighbourhood.”

Owens says part of the problem is people have been feeding feral cats in the neighbourhood, and that’s created an easy food source for the cougars.

“There’s a lot of feral cats in that particular area ... we’ve had some incidents where people are feeding feral cats in the neighbourhood and kind of causing a little bit of this problem,” said Owens.

Another concern is around children out trick-or-treating tonight. Owens says it's important to keep wildlife safety in mind while out and about Sunday night.

“Have groups, safety in numbers," he said. "Get some space and distance if you see a cat. Generally speaking [cougars] don’t jeopardize public safety. Their main food source is deer.”

Owens wouldn’t divulge the exact location where the live trap has been set up.

The BC Conservation Officer Service provided the following information for people who encounter a cougar:

STOP – Pick up all small children immediately. Do Not Run. Sudden movement may provoke an attack. Try to back away from the cougar slowly. SPACE and DISTANCE. Never approach a cougar at any time for any reason especially if it is near a kill or with kittens. Cougars will normally avoid a confrontation. Always give a cougar an avenue of escape. Prepare to use your bear spray.

STAY CALM - Talk to the cougar in a confident voice. Maintain eye contact with the cougar. DO Not Turn Your Back on the cougar. Face the cougar and remain upright.

APPEAR LARGE – Make yourself look larger than the cougar. Do Not Bend Over or Crouch Down. Raise your hands hold your coat open. Move to higher ground if nearby. Throw sticks, rocks, branches or other objects if within reach.

BE PREPARED – bear spray, noise maker and walking stick; these can be used for protection in the event of an encounter. Cougars can be attracted to dogs. So it is best to have your dog at home. If you do travel with a dog keep it close and on a leash at all times. Carry a cell phone to call for help in the event of trouble.

If a Cougar Behaves Aggressively

If a cougar shows interest or follows you, respond aggressively. Maintain eye contact, show your teeth and make loud noises. Arm yourself with rocks or sticks as weapons. When picking up objects crouch down as little as possible. Prepare to use your bear spray.

If a cougar attacks FIGHT BACK - Convince the cougar you are a threat and not prey. Many People have survived cougar attacks by fighting back by using anything, including rocks, sticks, bare fists and fishing poles. Focus your attack on the cougar’s face and eyes. If you’re knocked down, get back up. NEVER PLAY DEAD with a cougar.

The Conservation Officer Service is reminding the public when sighting a cougar or experiencing cougar pet/livestock depredation the importance of immediately calling the Conservation Officer Service’s 24/7 call center Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) toll free line at 1-877-952-7277, cellular dial #7277 or on line at www.rapp.bc.ca .

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