The juvenile cougar destroyed in Goldstream Park campground Monday wasn’t likely the same one seen in the Happy Valley area of Langford three days earlier.
Conservation officer Peter Pauwels, who shot the wildcat in the park, said it had no interest in moving from where it was repeatedly sighted, down a hill from campsite number 76, near Upper Goldstream Trail.
“I went there twice and both times it was just standing there,” Pauwels said, noting the cougar approached some campers, but wasn’t aggressive.
“They threw stones at it to try to scare it off, but it wouldn’t leave,” he said. “It’s very unusual behaviour. Usually cougars have an avoidance, if not an outright fear, of people.”
Campers reported seeing the cougar in the same spot Saturday and Sunday. Pauwels came out to have a look Sunday night, and returned Monday at 6:30 a.m. to kill it.
Pauwels had no idea why the cat was hanging around.
“We didn’t find any evidence that it had a kill nearby,” he said. “It could have been hunting raccoons. It’s impossible to know for sure.”
He said because the cat was so young, only 18-months old, and already very habituated to humans, it wasn’t a candidate for relocation.
“We understand people are upset when an animal is killed,” he said. “We’d like to see the cougars co-exist with us as much as possible. But this one would have continued to be a problem.”
Cougar sightings reported from south Island have doubled this year over last. There have been 200 called into the Ministry of Environment hotline since April.
Last month a cougar was shot after strolling down Beacon Avenue in downtown Sidney. More recently, conservation officers hunted unsuccessfully for a wildcat that bit the skull of a toddler in Pacific Rim National Park.
Pauwels said he doesn’t respond to every call he receives, and there’s no need to report a cougar if it’s acting normally or somewhere you would expect to see one.
The hotline number is 1-800-663-9453.