Late Saturday, April 1st a resident in the Toby Benches area heard a commotion outside their home, but it wasn’t until the next morning that she would discover what had caused the disturbance. The resident found a buried carcass of a deer that had been killed and partially eaten out front of the home.
The resident then notified the Conservation Officer Service of the kill and local conservation officer Greg Kruger was in touch with the resident.
“She wasn’t concerned about safety just wanted to make sure the conservation office knew there was a cougar in that area,” said Kruger.
When the deer was discovered it was 20 feet (six metres) from the home but according to the resident, it looked like the kill happened five feet (1.5) from the house and then was dragged 15 feet (4.5 metres) away.
“All indications from what was found from the deer carcass to other evidence that she brought to our attention, from the attack and the kill, (makes us) pretty positive it was a cougar,” said Kruger.
Conservation officers are considering this attack as normal cougar activity as it was hunting in the dark and killed natural prey.
“The only thing that would be a little bit of a concern was the proximity to the occupied house but again cougar behaviour is such when they focus in on an attack and kill prey species, they are very very focused on doing just that,” said Kruger.
Since the April 1st attack, no other cougar incidents have been reported in the area and there is no concern for public safety.
“Nothing about the information we’ve received for this event would be any cause for concern for the public safety and or domestic animals being that its is very good cougar habitat on the Toby Benches. We know there’s cougars there, that is cougar territory and being it attacked and killed natural prey — a deer — we have no issue with that. The only concern would be that it was near a home,” said Kruger.
Kruger said there could be cougar encounters anywhere throughout the community and the public should use common sense when outdoors.
“I guess the message is, if a cougar does get close to a person or does come in to attack a person, a big piece of advice people should know is to defend themselves and fight back,” said Kruger.
Kruger suggests reading up on cougar safety tips online, take a walking stick as they’re a proven device to fend off a cougar, and report sightings.
“I would put it out there just usual general caution and basic common sense when in the outdoors. Anywhere in the Columbia Valley is cougar habitat and with cougar movement and cougar activity, they have fairly large territories,” said Kruger.
To report a cougar sighting or incident call conservation at their toll-free call centre 1877-952-7277 to report.