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Cougars prowling in Parksville Qualicum Beach region

One alarming incident and a couple cougar sightings are a good reminder to be aware, according to conservation officers.

"There have been very few spotted in Parksville in the last couple months, a couple in the outskirts, around Little Mountain or Rathtrevor Park," said Sgt. Ben York, but a "smallish" one was seen around the 300 block of Moilliet Street on the evening of Monday, July 8.

Described as knee-high to an adult, York estimated it was in its first year away from its mother and said they responded because it was in an urban area, though he made it clear there were no reports of aggressive or troubling behaviour.

Conservation officers responded with dogs but the scent was lost in the heat. He said it appeared to be heading back up the hill away from town.

While there has been an application for a back yard chicken coop in the general area, it is unknown where there actually are chickens in the area and mayor Chris Burger suggested, and conservation officers agree, the cougars are more likely drawn in by the high deer populations.

York pointed out there hasn't been an increase in cougar sightings in the area, if anything it's been a quiet year.

Burger pointed out cougars have always been common in the area and are occasionally spotted in town including one that had to be killed beside Community Park in September 2011.

In an unrelated incident, a full-sized cougar had to be shot in Bowser on July 2.

There had been a half dozen reports of an increasingly bold cougar in the area over the previous weeks when "we got a call while it was actually in a chicken coop killing chickens."

RCMP and conservation officers responded and killed the cat because of its continuing presence in the area.

York stressed this is why sightings need to be reported quickly, whether or not they respond to each call they help them track and understand the animal's behaviour and level of danger.

If you see a cougar be as big and loud as possible, wave sticks or throw things to scare them off. Gather children and pets close and try to keep eye contact with the animal while backing out the way you came. Do not run as it may trigger the animal's hunting instinct. Check www.env.gov.bc.ca/cos/ for more information.

Report sightings with as much detail as possible immediately to the conservation officer at 1-877-952-RAPP (7277).

• A bear that was getting accustomed to food left out for it in the form of garbage was getting too comfortable around people and had to be destroyed in Bowser.

"That neighbourhood killed that bear and its getting to be time that we start enforcing the law," said conservation officer Sgt. Ben York who pointed out the wildlife act was amended a couple years ago making it illegal to leave animal attractants out. "It wasn't scared of humans anymore and we were nervous it was going to start causing more damage  to property or humans," he said.

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