Reported sightings of cougars are on the rise, especially on social media. (Spencer Lindskoog - Facebook image)

Cougar sightings on the rise in Okanagan

More reports of seeing large wild cats over last year

More cougars are roaming the region this year.

Sightings of the large wild cats have increased this year over last, according to Conservation Officers.

“This year seems to be slightly higher than others for sightings,” said CO Tanner Beck. “I wouldn’t say it’s a record year.”

Wayne Andre recently spotted a large cat roaming near his home neighbouring BX Elementary school.

“It passes through my backyard and I’ve seen the fresh tracks and only seen it on my game cam once at night,” said Andre.

See: Cougar scares Girl Guide selling cookies in Vernon neighbourhood

Another possible cougar sighting took place on Upland Drive in Coldstream Sunday, March 17.

Spencer Lindskoog captured a photo of what is believed to be a cougar across the road in front of his house.

“Wish I got a picture five seconds earlier,” he posted on Facebook. “I couldn’t believe my eyes.

While many are surprised to see these large cats roaming the neighbourhoods, it is not uncommon.

“I used to live on Scenic Drive as a kid and even 20 years ago we would have cougar sightings in that area every year,” said Brittany Paulson.

Beck agrees.

“In all reality, there’s been cougars there lots,” he said of not just this, but the many areas where cougars are spotted.

“This happens every single year, this time of year,” said Beck.

Unfortunately, a number of unofficial reports of cougar sightings are being made via social media.

As an example, it was recently reported that a large cat was sleeping on the back deck of a BX resident. Yet, Beck said the closest report to that is that cougar tracks have been spotted on a deck.

“We don’t get the information,” said Beck. “People are hearing things.”

Those who have personally spotted a cougar are urged to report their sightings, versus second or third parties making the call.

Beck would also like to clarify the Conservation Office’s protocol on destroying cougars.

See: Cougars attack Cherryille dogs, killing one

“We don’t wait until they attack,” he said. “We base it on the behaviour of the cat. But we can’t go killing cougars just because they are here.”

Behaviour that would warrant action includes any interest in people and if a cougar is spotting during the day time walking through a neighbourhood. The predatory killing of livestock and pets is also what COs look for.

Families are reminded to have cougar safety talks with their children and keep an eye on them in their yards. Kids who walk to the bus stop in semi-rural areas should do so in groups versus alone.

“They’re always around so people should be doing (these things) all the time.”

The good news is, with spring upon us, it is likely that the deer will be able to retreat to the hills for food. And the cougars will follow.

“When their food disperses, then the cougars also disperse.”


@VernonNews
jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

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