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Cougar spotted near Big White Resort

It may be fairly predictable that cougars would be roaming about the mountains, but Big White Ski Resort wants overnighters to know there’s one frequenting the ski village.

Big White operations manager Michael Ballingall reported the sighting to media early Thursday after being informed ski resort security had received reports of the animal.

“There’s been three different visuals in the last 24 hours,” said Ballingall.

“There’s not a lot of people up there…but there’s condo owners that come up there and stay the night. We just want people to be aware.”

As Ballingall put it, the area is quite wild in the summer and there is plenty of other wildlife—from moose to bears to porcupines—but it is unusual to see a cougar roaming around the village.

The cat was spotted near Snowshoe Sam’s pub, on the Perfection ski run and on Porcupine Road near the firehall.

Conservation officer Ed Seitz said he has been trying to track down the original source of the reports at Big White.

He wants to ask some  pointed questions to ensure it is a cougar and determine whether the animal’s behaviour warrants intervention.

Young cougars are pushed away by their mother’s before two years old and some have trouble learning to hunt and eat.

“When they get desperate, that’s when you see them,” Seitz added, saying they start to come down into neighbourhoods where pets are easy prey.

Seitz has contacted the main conservation office in Penticton to have some brochures with cougar sighting information sent up to the resort, but said the basic rules are quite simple.

“Their prey don’t tend to fight back,” he said, “so we encourage people to fight with everything they have (if one charges to attack).”

Without knowing the exact circumstances of the Big White issue, he noted it would be hard for him to know whether the animal poses a threat. There are plenty of deer at Big White, and where there’s deer there’s usually cougars, he said, but it is also very unusual to see a cougar during daylight hours or anywhere near people.

Another sign has been posted at Bear Creek Park on the Westside warning a cougar was spotted in the wooded area, though Seitz had not received any calls on that animal sighting.

 

jsmith@kelownacapnews.com

 

 

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