A Spallumcheen resident thought he was shooing away a neighbour’s dog that was fighting with his own Anatolian livestock protection guard dog at a property on Back Enderby Road.
Turns out the animal the resident hit on the right hip area with a shovel was a large cougar.
The incident was reported at 5 a.m. Feb. 28 to the Conservation Officer Service’s Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line at 1-877-952-7277.
“Conservation officers, with the assistance of agency canines, attended the property, determining a cougar had attacked a seven-year-old, 70-lb Anatolian dog,” said conservation officer Ken Owens. “The attack had occurred directly next to a private residence.”
The dog survived the attack but did need the attention of a veterinarian.
“The quick action by our complainant allowed for conservation officers to respond with four agency dogs in a timely manner,” said Owens, adding the provincial K9 program, a division within the COS, is invested in training dogs to assist COS staff in addressing human-wildlife conflict to protect human health and safety.
“This provides a professional uniformed response by subject matter experts to ensure the safety of the public and the responders. These dogs are utilized to respond to critical, high-profile cougar attacks involving human injuries or fatalities and pet/livestock depredation involving cougars.”
Cougars are intelligent animals that learn to hunt through positive experiences. A cougar that has learned to hunt pets and livestock near residences can threaten the safety of other pets and livestock in the neighborhood. As a result a cougar may attack domestic animals that are similar in shape, size and smell to wild prey.
“The difficult part of a conservation officer’s job – the removal of wildlife from the population – is never an easy thing to do,” said Owens. “Conservation officers assessed the situation carefully to determine the likelihood of the animal re-offending and or surviving. In this case, it was determined the cougar was likely to attack again and officers elected to euthanize the offending cougar, which was located a short time later near the attack location.”
Conservation officers are asking the public to keep a watchful eye on their pets and to report human-wildlife conflict occurrences to the RAPP line: 1-877-952-7277 (#7277 on your cell).
The conservation office’s fiscal years runs April 1 to March 31. Cougar-related calls have been on the decline since 2015.
In 2013-14, there were 250 calls, and that rose to 321 in 2014-15. Since then, it’s been a steady decrease: 119 calls in ’15-’16; 113 in 2016-17. There have been 91 calls to date this year.
Visit www.vernonmorningstar for safety tips and cougar facts.
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Vernon Morning Star