Alberta's cougar population tripled in past decade
Humans and cougars are coming face to face more often
Human encounters with cougars are on the rise in Alberta, according to wildlife conservation group WildSmart.
Alberta's cougar population is rebounding after years of over-hunting and displacement, says Tyler McClure, a spokesman for WildSmart, based in Canmore, Alta.
Ten years ago, there were only 680 cougars left in the province; now, that number has nearly tripled to just over 2,000 animals.
And as the numbers have gone up, the animals have started to reclaim their historical territories.
"Most of this expansion we're seeing is coming from the west of Alberta in the mountains, moving towards the east and a little towards the north — so starting to encompass... cities like Edmonton and Calgary," McClure said on Thursday.
And that growing territory means humans and cougars are coming face to face more often -- particularly in rural or recreational areas and at cities' limits.
However, McClure says Albertans don't have to worry too much as cougars remain wary of humans, and only rarely attack.
In the past century, there have only been 27 cougar attacks on people across Canada, and only seven people have been killed by cougars during that time.
"Really, not high numbers," he said.
However, McClure offered these tips, should you happen to come across a cougar:
- If you spot one in the distance: Gather your group together and back away to a safe place (i.e. parked car, indoors)
- If you end up at close range: Stand your ground — act aggressively, clap and yell, and throw rocks and sticks at the cougar if necessary.