Cougar found nestled under back deck

Robert Warriner and his wife discovered a cougar under the deck of their home near Big River, Sask., Tuesday morning.
A large cougar was nestled under the back deck of the Warriner home near Big River, Sask. (Courtesy: Robert Warriner)

Robert Warriner and his wife discovered a cougar under the deck of their home near Big River, Sask., Tuesday morning.

The day began with the normal routine, with Warriner heading outside around 7 a.m. CST.

"I let the dogs out and I was going over to the garage to have a cigarette and the dogs were acting a lot worse than normal," Warriner told CBC Radio's Afternoon Edition host Craig Lederhouse Tuesday.

It never snarled much.- Robert Warriner

Warriner thought there might be a porcupine under the deck and was concerned his dogs would mix it up with the animal and get some barbs. So he put the dogs in the garage and when his wife came outside he asked her to go and investigate.

Her report was that she saw a "catlike" creature.

"So I got the flashlight and went over there," he said. "It had a big head and it was a cougar."

He estimated the animal was about five feet in length, or 1.5 metres. He later learned it weighed about 100 pounds, or 45 kilograms.

"But it was not threatening to us," he added. "It never snarled much."

Warriner said he called a friend who happens to be a wildlife conservation officer and reported what they found.

Before long a couple of officers, who happened to be nearby, arrived to check things out and they confirmed there was a cougar under the deck.

"We tried to scare it at first," Warriner said, about their efforts to shoo the animal away. "[We] tried jumping up and down on the deck ... and it never moved."

The officers then decided to go into Big River to get the gear they would need to deal with the animal.

Warriner said the officers were reluctant to shoot the animal with a tranquilizer dart because it was very close range. So they attached the tranquilizer to a long stick and did the job by hand.

"It's butt end was sticking out the north end [of the deck] almost," Warriner said, and one of the officers stabbed it with the needle while the other kept the animal's attention away from that side.

The drug took effect within about 15 minutes.

"It got really wobbly and couldn't hold its head up anymore and when its head went down into the snow, they grabbed the tail and pulled it out," he said.

Warriner said he kept a safe distance while the officers did their jobs.

"I was standing back about 20 feet," he said. "They just loaded it onto the back of their truck and I gave them a dog blanket to cover it up."

He said the officers released the animal some 60 kilometres north of Big River.

Big River is about 135 kilometres northwest of Prince Albert.


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