Public sightings of cougars

Be cougar and bear aware on the West Shore during the summer months

Simple steps can help avoid unwanted encounters with wildlife

This isn’t Jellystone National Park, and chances are pretty good that Yogi Bear won’t be trying to steal your picnic basket this summer. Picnic basket or not, you still could be attracting the attention of your furry neighbours without even knowing it.

“We are lucky to live in a place that is also home to bears and cougars,” says Nitya Harris, “and if we choose to live in bear and cougar country, it is our responsibility to know what habits and actions attract these animals and what we need to do to avoid conflict.”

Harris chairs the Coexisting with Carnivores Alliance, a regional group that works with government and community to prevent human conflict with bears, cougars and wolves.

“Bear (sightings) tend to go up and down every year. The summer of 2013 was extremely busy, 2014 not as busy, and 2015 is expected to be an average year,” said Peter Pauwels, regional conservation officer for Vancouver Island.

Conversely, cougar sightings have remained relatively the same over the past 20 to 30 years, with any rise in the trends being accounted to more people living in the area.

“Sightings for both species are most likely to occur during the summer. It’s lighter for longer in the day,” said Pauwels. “People are out hiking and biking.”

He added that in the winter months people are more likely to be inside, which makes sightings more rare, especially since bears hibernate in the winter.

If you do encounter a bear or cougar, Pauwels said, “Don’t approach the animal, give the animal an avenue of escape, and get out of its way.”

Harris encourages West Shore residents to be bear wise and cougar aware with a few simple tips.

• Put garbage and kitchen scraps out the morning of collection day (not the night before).

• Store garbage in a secure location like a garage, shed or basement and dispose of it regularly.

• Keep containers clean, with lids tightly closed and out of the sun to help prevent odours that will attract animals.

• Line the bottom of totes and layer compost with paper products to help absorb moisture, minimizing clean-up and odours.

• Store proteins, especially fish and bones, in the freezer until collection day to reduce odours and insects.

While hungry bears are scavengers with great memories of food sources, cougars will cover a large territory and may stop in an urban area if prey are in the neighbourhood.

Cougar country

To avoid conflict with cougars:

• Keep pets like small dogs and cats indoors at night.

• Feed pets inside or bring in uneaten food as the smell might attract cougars or potential prey.

• Keep bird feeders clean and the ground under them clear will also help deter rodents and other animals, like deer, that often fall prey to cougars.

• Small livestock and chickens are also easy targets, so maintaining an electrical fence and keeping feed properly secured will help deter cougars.

• The ultimate deterrence is not feeding deer or other wild animals as they can attract larger predators into residential areas.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com

Just Posted

Langford trucks vandalized for third time in five months

Staff member spends weekend washing after six trucks hit with graffiti

Oak Bay dog walk benefits guide dogs

Two more walks set for Sunday in Victoria and Colwood

Police stay quiet on downtown fire investigation

The fire at Victoria’s Plaza Hotel was deemed suspicious on May 14

Former Saanich councillor joins Cordova Bay community association board

Leif Wergeland served on Saanich council for 22 years before retiring from politics in 2018

Coastline serves up a feast of fiddlers in Oak Bay

Local Juno Award winner musical director for ensemble

Rescuers finally persuade Eiffel Tower climber to come down

The official said the man was ‘under control and out of danger’ on Monday night

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of May 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Were you satisfied with the Game of Thrones series finale?

Millions gathered in front of their televisions Sunday night to watch the… Continue reading

Young man on Vancouver Island dies after losing control of ATV

Crash claimed the life of a 23-year-old south of Nanaimo over the long weekend

Baby boom seniors putting pressure on B.C. long-term care: report

B.C. leads Canada in growth of dementia, dependence on care

RCMP probe if teen was intentionally hit with ski pole by mystery skier on B.C. mountain

The incident happened on March 20 on Grouse Mountain. Police are urging witnesses to come forward

B.C. firefighters rescue frozen dog from ice

The fire crew found a dog stuck in the at Lake Paul on May 20

Most British Columbians agree the ‘big one’ is coming, but only 50% are prepared

Only 46 per cent of British Columbians have prepared an emergency kit with supplies they might need

B.C. man to pay Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party $20k over lawsuit

Federal judge shut down Satinder Dhillon’s ‘nonsensical’ motion to bar use of PPC name in byelection

Most Read