Waiting game between COs and cougar

Cat last spotted Jan. 26 on 121st Avenue near 264 Street

Ruby, the hound, trees a cougar during a hunt on Friday near Bella Coolla. The cat was shot down by Steve Austin, a bow hunter from Maple Ridge.

Ruby, the hound, trees a cougar during a hunt on Friday near Bella Coolla. The cat was shot down by Steve Austin, a bow hunter from Maple Ridge.

Conservation officers are still on the hunt for a cougar that has killed seven farm animals in east Maple Ridge since the beginning of the month.

Six soft leg-hold traps, set Sunday after a miniature horse was eaten, have failed to catch the cat.

A goat, two other miniature horses, a donkey and two sheep on the same property in the 25700-block of 128th Avenue were slain in previous attacks.

“We are basically waiting for another call,” said Murray Smith, with the B.C. Conservation Service.

“There is not much you can do until you get a fresh sighting again.”

The cougar was last spotted Wednesday night by a woman who lives on 121st Avenue near 264th Street.

Smith said conservation officers will continue to inspect the traps daily and will bring in a houndsman who lives in Maple Ridge to sniff the cougar out, if it kills again.

But Steve Austin, a Maple Ridge bow hunter, who snagged a cougar in Bella Coolla over the weekend, believes leg-hold traps won’t snare the cat.

“This is a very smart animal,” said Austin, who adds people should be more cautious now that the cougar has honed in on easy prey.

“When the cat comes out into public like this, it is not afraid.”

Austin recommends conservation officers bring in a houndsman whose dogs are accustomed to a cougar’s scent.

When you see a cat closing in like this, it’s only a matter of time before something bad happens, he said.

The conservation service uses leg-hold traps throughout B.C. and reports they have successfully caught many cougars.

Cougar populations are on the rise across B.C., with 1,500 sightings reported in the past year across the province.

Smith said leg-hold traps work 24 hours a day, while hounds can only be used when there’s a fresh kill.

“You want to drop the dogs in when you know the cougar is around.”

Hounds were not used after Sunday’s kill because an assessment by the houndsman and conservation officer found hazards like metal scattered around the property, which would have injured the animals.

The hounds were used two weeks prior to Sunday.

“The houndsman is on alert,” said Smith.

“We have these dogs available to go out quickly at a sighting.”

Cougar sighting

If you see a cougar, call 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP) or police right away.

Maple Ridge News