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Cougars roaming around rural Maple Ridge

Two sightings today of cougars in northern forest

Multiple cougars sightings were reported in northeastern Maple Ridge on Tuesday.

Jeannette Johnson shared a post about a sighting of a cougar near 228th Street and 128th Avenue at about noon.

Conservation officer Todd Hunter said two calls came in from the area at about that time within about a half hour.

Some people spotted the cat sitting on the beach watching people float down the South Alouette River, he added.

Another sighting was reported at about 2:30 p.m., on 250th Street and 130th Avenue.

“There was no aggressive or threatening behaviour exhibited, just some attention to livestock,” Hunter said.

Earlier, Karlee Neilson, on the Whonnock Neighbours Facebook group, said she spotted four cougars, presumably a mom and three cubs, on 256th Street near Fraser Regional Correctional Centre.

“I thought the mom was bringing her juveniles in to be locked up, lol,” said Nelson.

People leaving out tasty possible meals to the cats could lead to them having to be shot by officers if they become too aggressive, Hunter said.

Maple Ridge and Mission are particularly bad for people leaving chickens out in unsafe conditions.

Wildsafe B.C. calls for people to ensure chicken coups and runs are secure and safe from cougars, while an electric fence around the perimeter is another step.

“We’ve had a number of issues this year and we’re taking them very seriously,” Hunter said.

“We’ve received a significant number of calls this year with either bears or cougars or bobcats getting into backyard chicken coups.”

So far this year, five cougars have been killed in the North Fraser zone, which stretches from Anmore to Mission, he added.

One of those was killed in Maple Ridge after taking down livestock.

The property owner has since increased security around his property.

“We need everybody to do their part in trying to ensure the attractants are taken care of,” Hunter said.

Officers are reluctant to destroy the animals if they’re just simply being attracted to unsecured agricultural prey.

“We have to ensure something’s being done before we go out and destroy an animal.”

Hunter said berry, honey or chicken producers will all get better yields if they keep their products safe.

“These tips, they do work, for making your yard less attractive to cougars and bears. Many people are following them.”

Hunter said during hot, dry spells people are likely to see more cougars because prey gets harder to track and less plentiful and more people get out into the bush.

“Expect to see cougars during the long, dry periods.”

He said if people encounter a cougar while hiking, they should back away slowly, make themselves large by putting their arms in the air, and shout commands, telling the cougar to go away.

Don’t hike alone, he advised, and tell people where you’re going.

Bear spray works on cougars, he added, so learn how to use it.

“And don’t spray it into the wind.”