In late November in the park area immediately behind Dominion Street and north of the McBride Secondary School a fresh deer kill was discovered. Around the kill and in the surrounding area cougar tracks were found… even in the subdivision where several police officers and our current mayor reside.
Todd Hunter, conservation officer out of the Prince George office, said based on preliminary data, the cougar is probably a juvenile animal. These younger animals typically weigh 80-100 lbs in our area. When full grown they can reach 150-160 lbs. Interestingly just 50 miles east in Valemount mature cougars up to 200 lbs have been found. This is a result of the quantity and diversity of the game in the area. An adult cougar or as they are sometimes referred to – the Mountain Lion, can reach up to nine feet in length at maturity.
In this particular case – sightings have been reported over the last week or so . Other than proximity, this animal has been demonstrating no abnormal or threatening behaviour. The prevalence and number of deer in that portion of our village would be the attraction that would cause the cougar to come closer.
Hunter suggested that the habit of feeding deer is never a good idea as it does tend to draw predators closer.
He went on to advise parents that they should continue to walk their children to school – and while doing so should make plenty of noise. The noise is in an attempt to maintain a balance, which suggests that prevention is far better than confrontation. Remember that a single Cougar can take down a horse, moose or deer effortlessly. Hunter suggested that as you walk in this area (if you must) you should make every effort to look as large as possible and carry noise makers and even pepper spray to safeguard yourself.
As the juvenile animals are more dangerous, the conservation department will be monitoring things closely and will look at the necropsy results from the recent deer kill before taking further action.
If anyone sees a cougar or any wildlife showing abnormal or threatening behaviour call 1-877-952-7277 or the local RCMP.