British Columbia

Okanagan woman starts petition for better wildlife protocol

An Okanagan woman has started an online petition calling for the province to change its wildlife protocol after a family of four cougars was killed in Penticton.

Family of four cougars killed in Penticton in January sparked local debate

A mother cougar and three cubs were destroyed after they were hunting less than half a kilometre from an elementary school in Penticton, B.C. (Mike Hanley)

An Okanagan woman has started an online petition calling for changes to provincial wildlife protocol after a family of four cougars was recently killed in Penticton, B.C.

The mother cougar and three cubs were caught and destroyed earlier this month after they were spotted hunting and stalking in urban areas. 

Jennifer Peters believes conservation officers acted too quickly to kill the animals and wants more proactive measures in place.

"I think it's important to protect and preserve wildlife and I think we can do things better," said Peters.

"I think that we perhaps could have handled it differently."

She would have liked to see the animals relocated to the wild or to a sanctuary rather than destroyed.

"There's always a way. We can at least give them a chance," she said. "That's the problem, we're just reacting right now and we're not giving other solutions a chance."

Proposed alert system

One if the ideas proposed in her petition is an alert system where the public receives communication from authorities and communities are put on temporary lockdown.

"If we have a predator or a shooter or a loose, we have no problem shutting down an entire city and deploying all enforcement that we can possibly throw at it,"

"But in this same situation we have a predator on the loose or a number of them and there's no alert or procedure," said Peters.

Peters has not yet spoken to anyone from the province about her concerns directly, but plans to contact various MLAs once she gets more signatures.

"My plea or my hope is that with this petition we can generate a little bit of buzz and public uproar in regards to how we handle this in the future."

The B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations did not respond to the petition directly, but does have a procedure manual on preventing and responding to conflicts with large carnivores.

It states that human safety is the top priority and there are many variables that can influence the response to animal conflicts.

WildSafeBC also currently operates a Wildlife Alert Reporting Program where B.C. residents can alert each other to wildlife encounters.

WildSafeBC's Wildlife Alert Reporting Program tracks wildlife encounters, including the latest cougar sightings around the province. (WildSafeBC/ W.A.R.P.)