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‘We have to co-exist’: Cougar and bear sightings increase on the West Shore

The cougar attack in Metchosin was a mother and its juvenile offspring

Cougars attacking livestock during the day isn’t out of character for these wild cats, but part of their nature as animals of opportunity, says Mollie Cameron, Wild Wise president.

Reports of cougars attacking livestock in Metchosin, along with increased bear sightings around Colwood, have sparked concerns that people are not securing their livestock and their garbage, said Cameron.

“Cougars are very visual and auditory animals. So, they rely heavily on their sight and their hearing. And again, as opportunists, if they see a food source, and it’s available and accessible, they will go after it,” said Cameron.

It is important to remember that these large animals are often more scared of us than we are of them, and they do not know the difference between livestock and a deer running through the forest. It is all food to them.

“They just see food. And again, we live in their territory, and it’s important for us to try to coexist with them.”

The cougar attack in Metchosin was a mother and its juvenile offspring who had taken the opportunity to attack a farmer’s baby goat said B.C. conversation officer Rick Dekelver.

“Based on tracks found on site, they attacked a goat at around midday. They did not feed on that animal, whether they were spooked. Or they wanted to try something new and didn’t like the taste.”

Dekelver said that no further action would be taken against the cougars.

“It’s hard to justify killing such beautiful wildlife over an opportunity they had.”

He said it is crucial to secure livestock in secure buildings as cougars can jump over electric fences that can often ward off bears.

Southern Vancouver Island has a very mild climate compared to other parts of Canada, and bears are not as likely to hibernate, said Cameron, so ensure that all attractants, such as garbage, are correctly secure.

“Bears have a sense of smell that is 2000 times stronger than humans. So securing attractants is the best way to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts.”

Colwood, specifically, said Cameron has seen few people securing their garbage. Not only can unsecured garbage become an easy meal for the bears but it also might end up causing significant harm to them.

“If you are concerned about the overall safety and well-being of wildlife, have a conversation with your neighbours,” said Cameron.

“Have a conversation with us at Wild Wise. Have conversations with your council members about implementing safe practices for animals.”

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