Although this appears to be a busy year for cougar-human conflict, in fact, it is not unusual when compared to other years.
Between April 1 and September 7, 2011 – the busiest time of year for cougar sightings – the Ministry of Environment received 1,362 complaints about cougars. By comparison, the ministry received:
- 1,854 complaints in the fiscal year 2010-11.
- 2,242 complaints in 2009-10.
- 1,792 in 2008-09.
To date, 43 cougars have been killed in 2011 – 27 by conservation officers (COS) and 16 by others such as the RCMP or members of the public.
During a similar period (April 1 – September 30) in 2010, 49 were killed – 34 by COS and 15 by others, and in 2009, 68 were killed – 40 by COS, 28 by others.
Action by COS, where warranted, immediately follows confirmation of a cougar conflict wherever possible. A cougar is destroyed when it acts unusually aggressive toward humans and poses a risk to public safety. Although a cougar attack is highly unlikely, it always pays to be prepared.
Information and awareness are your best defences:
- Don’t feed wildlife and avoid attracting prey species such as small mammals, raccoons, deer, etc. by properly managing garbage and other attractants.
- Hike in groups, not alone.
- Carry bear spray.
- Ensure children do not play in wooded areas or hike on trails alone.
- Keep dogs on leashes, and smaller pets and livestock within enclosed areas.
- If you encounter a cougar, stay calm and pick up small children and household pets.
- Never run from or turn your back on a cougar.
- Always give the cougar room to escape.
- Face the cougar and raise your arms to look bigger.
- If a cougar acts aggressively, speak loudly and firmly, and if possible, throw rocks.
- If a cougar attacks, fight back.
The public is asked to report sightings of cougars and other dangerous wildlife to the 24-hour hotline at 1 877 952-7277.