Cougar sightings a concern

Elusive cat spotted lurking around driveway on 287th Street

A cougar was spotted in east Maple Ridge recently.

Just the sight of a cougar’s tail was enough to get Debby Hardy’s heart pounding.

Only the cat’s long, ropey, dark-tipped tail was visible, but the animal was coming down her driveway off 287th Street in Maple Ridge, on the other side of a vehicle. She paused for a second, thinking what to do, then bolted for the house. She didn’t want the big cat to come around the side of the car and see her.

She Googled a photo of a cougar, and recognized the tail she had just seen.

“Now my children and I no longer go outside to play. I no longer feel safe in my home,” she said.

There was a lively discussion about cougars on the Albion Neighbours Facebook page in the last week of January. People reported sightings in the area of 243rd street, at the Malcolm Knapp UBC Research Forest, and even at the Albion Sports Complex.

Sgt. Todd Hunter of the Conservation Officer service investigated cougar calls at the research forest on Dec. 11, and another sighting on Dec. 2 in the 13000 block of 233rd Street. Those were his most recent calls.

He said seeing a cougar at the research forest is normal for that area, and the animal exhibited no abnormal or threatening behaviour.

On 233rd street, a resident saw the tracks of a big cat in his yard, and a neighbour reported having seen a cougar on a fence the previous day.

For Hunter, these are not confirmed cougar calls, because members of the public will sometimes mistake bobcats – which are also common in this area – for their larger feline cougar cousins.

“A report of a cougar always concerns us in an urban area,” said Hunter, and asked that residents report such sightings, and immediately report an aggressive or threatening behaviour.

“The more details, the better,” he said. “The most appropriate response will be provided.”

He said cougars are general happy to disappear after a human contact

“Cougars are pretty elusive, and we don’t get a lot of complaints.

In general, he said people using the back country around Maple Ridge should never hike alone, and make noise as they go.

If a hiker encounters a cougar stop, and don’t try to persist on their path, advises Hunter.

Pick up children. Leave the animal a clear path of escape. Never run, or turn your back to it.

If the animal exhibits threatening behaviour, make yourself look big, put your hands up in the air, and make a lot of noise.

“Generally, they back off,” he said.

The twilight hours – dusk and dawn – are generally the times of day when a person is more likely to encounter many types of wildlife.

Cougars prefer the easy walking provided by wildness trails and power line rights-of-way.

Hiking with a dog may make you more likely to run into wildlife.

“If it’s wandering ahead, expect that the chances of an encounter between your dog and wildlife increases,” he said. “The best advice is to have it leashed.”

The veteran conservation officer has investigated calls where dogs have run down a trail while off leash, and never returned to their owner.

Black bears, bobcats and cougars are all common predators in this area, and the Pitt Lake drainage has even been host to grizzly bears, the said.

“Anywhere in B.C., in the back country, be prepared for an encounter with wildlife.”

• Call 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP) to report wildlife-human interactions where public safety is at risk.

 

Just Posted

Flames lose at home, win in Mission

Host Kodiaks on Friday night

Weavers and spinners to kick off holiday shopping

The Whonnock Weavers and Spinners’ 38th annual exhibit and sale takes place Nov. 25

Strong support for Pitt Meadows transportation projects

Overpass/underpass projects get majority support

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead in Maple Ridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

Ridge Meadows Hospital parking is still pay, but streets free

Surrey has removed meters on streets, asking Fraser Health for free parking at the hospital

UPDATE: IHIT confirms identity of Hells Angels homicide victim

Chad John Wilson was one of four men arrested in Spain in 2013 on allegations of smuggling cocaine.

Former NHL player and coach Dan Maloney dies at 68

Maloney coached the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets

Ex-MSU president charged with lying to police about Nassar

Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation

Otter makes a snack out of koi fish in Vancouver Chinese garden

Staff say the otter has eaten at least five fish

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

B.C. lumber mills struggle with shortage of logs, price slump

Signs of recovery after U.S. market swings, industry executive says

25% of Canadians still won’t say they use pot, survey says

Statistics Canada poll says Canadians on average were 18.9 years old when they first tried pot.

Canucks’ 50/50 jackpot expected to surpass $1 million

The guaranteed prize for one lucky winner will be $500,000 minimum when Vancouver hosts LA Nov 27

The latest advent calendar trend: Holiday cannabis

A Canadian company is giving people from coast to coast a new way to celebrate the Christmas countdown.

Most Read