Conservation officers in Cranbrook, B.C., say they were forced to shoot a group of cougars after they were spotted feeding on a deer in a residential neighbourhood.

The officers were called out after four juvenile cougars were spotted eating a deer not far from Parkland Middle School near Elizabeth Lake. The officers used trained dogs to chase the cougars up a tree, and then made the decision to shoot them.

"Obviously, public safety is our top priority, and that's what we had to put in front of the emotional part of putting down four juvenile cougars," said conservation officer Jared Connatty.

Connatty said the animals were exhibiting "normal, natural behaviour" just not in a normal, natural place.

The cougars' mother was treed the next day. However, conservation officers decided to collar her so they can track her movements.

"We don't deem her a public safety threat. The juveniles that were put down were based on their age, their behaviour and where they've been living," said Connatty.

The cougars were likely drawn to the neighbourhood by habituated deer.

"Urban deer do present a bit of an invitation for cougar to come in. That's what they're used to killing and there's deer right there," said Connatty.

Cranbrook was the first town in B.C. to trap and kill deer because of the predators they draw into town.

With files from CBC's Bob Keating