News

Cougar shot dead by conservation officers

CANDACE WU

news@pqbnews.com

A cougar has been shot dead in Englishman River Park by conservation officers after exhibiting what Sgt. Ben York called a "similar behavior profile" in four different encounters.

York said the cougar was approaching people, many with dogs, and following them for a long period of time.

"The cougar was not easy to scare off," said York, noting this was uncommon.

On Dec. 28 the cougar — a young female— was killed.

Conservation officers made the decision to shoot the cougar after two park closures and various complaints.

Englishman River Falls Provincial Park was first closed from Dec. 21 to Dec. 27 as a "precautionary measure" after three encounters with the cougar, explained York.

"On Dec. 27, CO Steve Ackles checked all the cameras and traps and found nothing so he removed the traps and opened the park," said York. "Quite literally, the next day someone was approached by a cougar and had a hard time scaring it off."

York said they closed the park again and called in their volunteer cougar houndsman.

"CO Ackles and the houndsman immediately picked up the scent of the cougar since the houndsman's dogs were on site," said York. "They chased the cougar about 600 metres upstream and shot it."

Though York said he couldn't be positive it was the same cougar, the behavior it expressed was "identical" to those in past reports.

Englishman River Falls Provincial Park has since been reopened to the public.

York said since April 2013, in the zone which spans Bowser to Ladysmith, including Parksville Qualicum Beach, 12 cougars have been destroyed by conservation officers.

"This was a fairly extreme year for us," said York. "Relative to the rest of the province, our numbers were way up and I don't know why."

York encourages people who have an encounter with a cougar that may threaten public safety to call the 24-hour report line at 1-877-952-7277 immediately. For more information on how to prepare for encounters with cougars visit http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/cos/info/wildlife_human_interaction/docs/cougars.html#encounters.

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