Parks Canada tracks cougar in residential area of Banff

Parks Canada is reminding residents and visitors to Banff to be careful about not attracting wildlife after a cougar was spotted in town.

Feline spotted near IGA around 3 a.m. Tuesday

A cougar is seen in this illustrative image from an Alberta Parks brochure. (Government of Alberta)

The town of Banff had an unusual visitor on Tuesday, after a cougar was seen in the residential area of the park.

RCMP spotted the feline near the local IGA grocery store around 3 a.m. and called Parks Canada.

Wardens were able to determine the cougar had left town later that morning, and that nothing specific attracted it to the residential area in the first place.

"It got lost," said Bill Hunt, resource conservation manager in Banff National Park.

The cougar was spotted near this IGA in Banff, Alta. on Tuesday. ( Anis Heydari/CBC)

"In all the tracking we did with this animal, it didn't encounter any attractants or food sources. So that's really good news."

Hunt added while it's not uncommon to observe wildlife in the national park, it is unusual for a cougar to move into an area where there are people.

However he credited the people in Banff for staying vigilant when it comes to waste management. The national park agency reminds all visitors and residents that it's important to secure all garbage, keep pet food and dishes inside, and always keep your pets on a leash. 

The cougar left the residential areas of Banff without finding anything that might attract it like food sources, says Bill Hunt, Resource Conservation Manager with Parks Canada in Banff National Park. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

"Sometimes an animal coming through town just disoriented like that will end up encountering garbage that's been left out, pet food dishes, or even in some cases cougars will be attracted to [pet] cats or dogs," said Hunt.

In this case, wardens determined the cougar appeared to be in good health and they believe it's back in the wildlife areas of the park.

If you encounter any carnivore in the national park, officials say you should contact Parks Canada staff.