British Columbia

Sandy the cougar's epic 700-kilometre journey cut short

A young cougar that was collared in Cranbrook B.C. and earned celebrity status for her epic 700-kilometre cross-border journey, had her life cut short by a hunter this past week.

Young cat collared in Cranbrook, B.C., became a celebrity in scientific circles for her travels

Cougars, which are also known as mountain lions, pumas and panthers, live from Northern Canada to the southern Andes of South America. (iStock)

A young cougar that was collared in Cranbrook B.C. and earned celebrity status in wildlife circles for her epic 700-kilometre cross-border journey, had her life cut short by a hunter this past week.

The young female cat, which was nick-named Sandy, had travelled south from B.C. to Montana, where she made the front page of the Great Falls Tribune for making such a long trip.

Montana biologist Jay Kolbe had answered inquiries from across North America about the big cat's journey.

But on Monday he told CBC he was saddened to hear the 41-kilogram animal was shot this past week.

"She was legally harvested somewhere east of Helena, Montana," said Kolbe.

Although saddened to learn Sandy was shot, he noted it's often hunters whose voices are loudest to preserve species like cougars, which are managed in the U.S, with hunting in mind.

Sandy the cougar alive here as she is collared by Patrick Stent, a wildlife biologist who followed her journey. (Patrick Stent)

Experts say the distance the two-year-old animal travelled, especially one slightly undersized, is rare.

"We're really surprised to see this kind of movement from a female cougar," said Patrick Stent, a wildlife biologist for the British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource told the Great Falls Tribune.

"It's just not common. Males are known to wander pretty far."

GPS tracked the journey Sandy the cougar took from British Columbia to Montana. (Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations B.C.)

With files from Bob Keating

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