British Columbia

Keeping deer out of neighbourhoods key to stopping cougar sightings

Few things are more majestic than seeing a deer grazing in your neighbourhood. Unfortunately, those deer are often followed by cougars.

Deer in the backyard may be a welcome sight, but they often attract cougars

Cougars often into residential neighbourhoods while hunting deer. (Getty Images/Fuse)

The conservation officer who shot and killed a cougar in West Vancouver says he was concerned about the animal walking in a high-density, residential area in the middle of the day. He says his office has received several calls about a cougar jumping on to balconies and decks over the past two weeks.

 WildSafeBC provincial coordinator Frank Ritcey said residents have a responsibility to make their neighbourhoods as unappealing to the predator as possible.

He spoke to On the Coast's Stephen Quinn about ways to make urban cougar sightings less prevalent.

Why can't cougars be captured and released somewhere else?

The issue is where do you relocate them? Cougars are quite territorial, so when you get a young cougar coming into town, it's trying to find a piece of territory where there isn't a large male already in charge of the area. There's just no place to put these animals.

What draws cougars into more urban areas?

It's often young cougars that come down to urban areas looking for territory. Other times they will be following prey like deer. Quite often people feed deer and welcome them into their neighbourhood without thinking that cougars will follow them.

Conservation officers shot and killed a threatening cougar that was spotted in West Vancouver on Thursday. (Simon Gravel)

Can they become acclimatized to humans?

They can. If a cougar moves into a neighbourhood and is successfully able to target cats and dogs, it's going to stay where the food is.

The cougar is a predator and it'll hunt just about any small mammal.

How can someone discourage cougar from entering a neighbourhood?

The big thing is to discourage deer from the neighbourhood. If you see people feeding deer talk to them about why it's not good to be feeding.

Also be sure to keep your cats and dogs indoors at night.

What happens if you do see deer in your yard?

You're within your rights to shoo them out of your neighbourhoods. Our motto is 'to keep wildlife wild and communities safe.' The wilder we can keep wildlife, the more likely our communities are going to be safer and it'll be safer for the wildlife.

To listen to the full interview, click the audio labelled: Ways to keep cougars out of your neighbourhood.

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