Cougar still out there, somewhere in east Maple Ridge

Conservation officers issue warning, keep small animals inside secure buildings

Rio is recovering from cougar attack in Webster's Corners area.

Rio is recovering from cougar attack in Webster's Corners area.

The Conservation Officer Service is warning the public to protect their animals, after two cougar  incidents this month.

The big cat mauled a miniature horse on Nov. 8, at a boarding stable on Tretheway Crescent, and then struck again on Nov. 13 in a similar attack only a kilometre away.

It tried to get into a barn where a pony was staying, but the owner came out as it was entering the building and scared it away.

“We’re pretty sure it’s the same cougar,” said Conservation Officer Robin Sano, adding that the animal appears to be using the Kanaka Creek corridor as what he calls a “wildlife highway.”

“It’s the easiest way for them to be active, and not be seen.”

The Kanaka Creek corridor cuts across east Maple Ridge, running from 232nd and Lougheed Highway, past 240th Street and all the way to 272nd Street.

People in that area need to be aware that a cougar may be hunting on their properties, and bring their pets in and secure their small livestock.

He said leaving small animals out at night is “unacceptable in cougar territory,” and said a cougar can become habituated in hunting pets and chickens in the same way that a bear becomes addicted to garbage.

An animal enclosure that is not secured, like a simple pen, creates an easy prey situation for a cougar, he said.

“Livestock needs to be placed in a secure enclosure at night.  Small livestock is most vulnerable. They are not to be left out,” said a press release from the Conservation Service.

People can be fined fo attracting dangerous wildlife.

Sano recommended bright lighting to keep predators at bay.

When they are present, a cougar can usually be scared off with bear bangers or air horns.

“If you approach it and you’re making noise, it’ll most likely be gone before you get there.”

He said people encountering a cougar must consider their personal safety first.

The mauled horse, Rio was taken to the animal hospital in Langley and treated for dozens of puncture wounds caused by bites and claws.

Owner Barbara Tunshell said Rio is doing well.

She said it is a virtual miracle none of the dozens of wounds pierced his vitals.

Rio is a therapy horse that visits seniors homes. Tunshell adoped him about four years ago.

“He’s pretty traumatized. He’s got a long road back, but he’s on his way.”

At this point, there is no indication the cougar is aggressive, stalking or predatory towards humans.

The public is asked to report cougar sightings or dead livestock or pets to COS 1-877- 952-7277.

“There’s lots of deer, so if people do animal husbandry, just like with bears and garbage, we’ll have no problems,” said Sano.