Cougar Attacks Conservation Officer
Prince George, B.C.- While Cougar sightings are not uncommon in communities throughout B.C., it is unusual for a Conservation Officer to be attacked by one of the big cats.
But, that is what happened to a C.O. in Salmo last night while investigating a report of the cat trying to get into a home.
It was the second cougar call that officer had attended last night. The first, occurred shortly after 7 pm when the Conservation officer from the West Kootenay zone responded to a report of an injured cougar. The animal ( a mature female) had been struck by a pick up truck and was suffering on the side of the road. The C.O. euthanized the animal. Immediately after that complaint, the same officer responded to a complaint about a cougar that was trying to enter a residence through a window.
The Conservation Officer was attacked by that juvenile male cougar which the Conservation Office says was extremely emaciated. The Officer, who suffered minor injuries, and was forced to kill the cat. It is the first time C.O. Deputy Chief Chris Doyle has ever heard of a C.O. being attacked, and he’s been with the service for 23 years.
Officer in charge of the Okanagan region, Tobe Sprado says there has been a slight uptick in the number of complaints about cougars. There were 10 complaints in the Salmo area in February alone. Sprado says the snow this winter is having an impact on food supply for the big cats “With the current snow conditions in the west Kootenays, it’s deep, and generally the prey species are in the valley bottoms, specifically deer and elk. With the snow at times being non compact, loose, it makes it difficult for predators such as cougars to prey efficiently on their normal prey species. So then they start to come into communities looking for a food source, generally pets, dogs, cats, that sort of thing.”
Deputy Chief Doyle says while the two incidents happened in Salmo, there is a message for everyone, “The messaging around cougar safety is consistent with what we provide year ’round, and that is to be cautious with domestic animals, pets, livestock are susceptible to cougar attacks, so electric fencing works well there. Keeping other animals contained or indoors, especially at night. If you do encounter a cougar, you don’t want to turn and run from a cougar, you don’t want to turn your back on a cougar. You want to make sure small children are kept close. In the rare event that a cougar attacks, as in a case like this, is to fight back and try and deter the attack.”