Update: Cougar cub found in downtown Kamloops had to be euthanized

Kamloops residents discovered the large cat outside their condominium

  • Mar. 22, 2018 11:30 a.m.

UPDATE:

A young cougar that wandered into downtown Kamloops on Wednesday had to be killed by conservation officers because the cat was too young to be returned to the wild and too old to be housed at a sanctuary such as the BC Wildlife Park.

The docile feline could be seen perched on a ledge just outside the Ashley Court seniors condominium’s entrance in the 300-block of Nicola Street, drawing the attention of a few onlookers.

Ultimately, the animal had to be tranquilized by conservation officers. While the hope was the cat could be relocated, it had to be put down, said conservation officer Kevin Van Damme, noting the animal was only a cub and appeared to have been orphaned.

“The age assessment came back at four or five months,” Van Damme said. “Unfortunately, those animals don’t have any means of making it on their own. They need their mother to guide them though life and to make sure they can be successful and catch their food.”

At that age, and with no mother, the cougar would have surely starved to death, Van Damme said.

“We don’t make these decisions lightly,” Van Damme said, adding it was a last resort option, but the humane thing to do.

While the cougar wasn’t a candidate for relocation in the wild due to its youth, Van Damme said it was also too old to be sent to a wildlife park.

“The parameters around receiving a kitten for care in a zoo setting — where it’s going to be held in captivity for its life — those animals need to be one to two months of age,” Van Damme said. “Unfortunately, this cougar was much older than that and its ability to adjust in a caged environment is a challenge. We don’t have any other facilities in British Columbia that you could put a large predator like this in. Unfortunately, we just didn’t have any options.”

BC Wildlife Park wasn’t contacted by the conservation officers in this instance, though the two groups do work closely. Conservation officers dropped off a cougar kitten to the wildlife park just last year, Van Damme said.

Glenn Grant, executive director of the park, said the Kamloops facility wouldn’t have been able to accommodate the cougar permanently as they do not have the room.

He said there are many factors that go into a decision to house an animal, including its health and the park’s ability to find a place to relocate it.

“The COs make that determination prior to calling us,” he said.

Mike Keetch lives in Ashley Court and had a window seat to the excitement of seeing a cougar stroll into the neighbourhood at about 9 a.m.

“It was a young one. It was very calm,” Keetch told KTW. “There was police all over the place with rifles and everything, and then conservation officers came.”

Keetch told KTW the cougar looked quite small.

“I’ve seen cougars before. I grew up on Vancouver Island and their full-grown cougars are way bigger than that one.”

Keetch estimated the cougar to be about 60 pounds and, without taking his tail into consideration, about four feet long.

Police had the street blocked off and a perimeter set up, monitoring the cougar as they waited for the conservation officers to arrive, Keetch said.

“It just kind of sat there. At one point, it was cleaning its paws and it was like a house cat — kind of an oversized house cat,” Keetch said with a laugh.

Van Damme said officers waited for the animal to leave on its own, when the cougar didn’t leave on its own, the decision was made to tranquilize it for public safety.

“Cougars in general, often times when they’re faced with a lot of pressure from people, they’ll just find a place to shelter,” said Van Damme. “We were concerned for the community and concerned for the people in and around in close proximity to the downtown core where this cougar was moving through.”

Officers asked to use Keetch’s bedroom window they could use his bedroom window as it was the best vantage point to take the shot.

“They came up, we took the screen out of the window, they darted it and packed him up and took him away,” Keetch said. “He went down in a couple of minutes. It didn’t take long.”

The shot was so close, the conservation officers’ range finder didn’t even work, Keetch said.

“The range finder doesn’t go down that low, so their shot was 15, 20 feet, that’s it,” he said.

—-

ORIGINAL:

—Kamloops this Week

It was an exciting, albeit anti-climatic morning for Mike Keetch and his fellow residents of the Ashely Court seniors condominium in downtown Kamloops.

Keetch was alerted by his neighbour to the commotion outside — a cougar hanging around just outside their homes in the 300-block of Nicola Street at about 9 a.m. on Wednesday.

“It was a young one. It was very calm,” Keetch told KTW. “There was police all over the place with rifles and everything and then conservation officers came.”

The docile feline could be seen perched on a railing, drawing the attention of a few onlookers.

RELATED: B.C. hunter stalked by a cougar

Police had the street blocked off and a perimeter set up, monitoring the cougar as they waited for the conservation officers to arrive, Keetch said.

“It just kind of sat there. At one point, it was cleaning its paws and it was like a house cat — kind of an oversized house cat,” Keetch said with a laugh.

When the cougar didn’t leave on its own, conservation officers decided to tranquillize it and asked Keetch if they could use his bedroom window as it was the best vantage point to take the shot.

“They came up, we took the screen out of the window, they darted it and packed him up and took him away,” Keetch said. “He went down in a couple of minutes. It didn’t take long.”

The shot was so close, the conservation officers’ range finder didn’t even work, Keetch said.

“The range finder doesn’t go down that low, so their shot was 15, 20 feet, that’s it,” he said.

RELATED: B.C. cougar kitten rescued after mother struck by vehicle

The animal was hauled off by about 10 a.m. and Keetch described the incident as “quite exciting,” noting many people were taking pictures of the animal.

“We don’t know where it came from,” Keetch said. “He looked quite small. I’ve seen cougars before. I grew up on Vancouver Island and their full-grown cougars are way bigger than that one.”

Keetch estimated the cougar to be about 60 pounds and, without taking his tail into consideration, about four feet long.

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