It's no coincidence cougar sightings are on the rise in neighbourhoods where people feed deer, conservation officers say.
The Nanaimo B.C. Environment office has seen an increase in calls in the past week from residents in the Dover-Hammond Bay area about a cougar in green spaces and near the beach.
Those reports are from neighbourhoods known for heavy deer populations. When residents put food out for deer, it makes their neighbourhood a magnet for predators.
Cougar reports posted on social media have fueled fears among residents and parents of small children, but so far wildlife officers have been unable to confirm reports of a big cat reportedly seen near the playground at Oliver Woods recreation centre.
Nanaimo is in cougar country, so the occasional sighting should surprise no one. But a glut of deer will make sightings a regular occurrence.
A cougar reported several times in recent days, between McGirr Road and Fillinger Crescent has so far shown no aggression toward humans.
"The reason they're there is because the place is polluted with deer," said Sgt. Ben York, of the Nanaimo Conservation Service office. "I took a loop through there this morning and I nearly hit three deer."
Deer soon get used to free food left out by residents. It's a problem in the Icarus and Dover road area, and cougars soon learn to hunt where deer are plentiful.
Traps and hounds can't be used in an urban area, so York encourages people to "stop feeding deer, because you're attracting predators to Nanaimo."
Parents should keep a sharp eye on small children and pets, and if confronted by a cougar, never run, and "make yourself as big as possible."
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