B.C. conservation officers put down 2 more cougars linked to dog attacks in Lower Mainland
Province says outcome was 'unfortunate' but the public risk was too high
B.C. conservation officers have killed two more cougars linked to dog attacks in the Lower Mainland.
The province's Environment Ministry said in a statement Friday that the cougars were captured and put down Thursday night.
It said the wild cats had been linked to dog attacks and public safety concerns in the Port Moody and Anmore area.
"While we recognize this is an unfortunate outcome, it was necessary as the risk to the public was far too great," the statement said.
Last weekend, conservation officers caught and put down a third cougar, along with a fourth one last month.
The ministry said conservation officers had been monitoring the cougars killed Thursday for several weeks. The animals were seen hanging around homes, a school and yards during the daytime.
"These cougars were displaying repeated behaviour indicating they had lost their fear of humans and were comfortable living and hunting non-natural prey in an urban residential setting."
'It's really abnormal'
The deaths come in the wake of several cougar attacks on dogs and heightened public concern.
On March 10, a cougar injured a fourteen-pound Shih Tzu-Maltese cross so badly that the dog had to be put down.
Two days later, a twenty-two-pound German shepherd puppy, destined for search and rescue training, was dragged away by a cougar in front of its owner.
Three other dogs have been attacked by cougars since August. The conservation service has received more than 80 cougar reports in the area since April.
John McEwen, the mayor of Anmore, B.C., said earlier this week that people are being encouraged to take precautions, including carrying bear spray.
"It's really abnormal. We don't normally get this," he said.
"I've lived here for over 20 years and this is new to me. When it starts attacking a human being that has a dog attached to it with a leash, that's when a line has been drawn."
Conservation officers say they aren't sure what is driving the aggressive behaviour, but note with warmer weather and the pandemic, more people are spending time outside.
The aggressive cougar encounters are "definitely higher than what we have seen previously," said Acting Sgt. Alicia Stark with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.
The ministry said conservation officers will continue to educate the public about cougar conflicts in the community.
Anyone who spots a cougar is asked to report the sighting to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service or to call 911 if it's an emergency.
With files from Briar Stewart