The past week or so has been fairly intense here in Lantzville. There have been notes from the school and people are talking about a cougar sighting in the area of Superior Road and Stone Road. There have been a few sightings around Lantzville this year.
I talked to Sean Pendergast, wildlife biologist, from the Fish and Wildlife branch in Nanaimo. He was telling me that cougars, generally young ones, are around because we have an abundance of deer and feral rabbits, and that is what they hunt.
Sean says that conflicts between people and cougars are pretty rare - thank goodness. We talked about some the things we should know about cougars and what precautions to take.
To keep your home safe, keep all garbage, pet foods or compost indoors. Do not let pets roam.
Ensure your livestock (some of us have chickens, etc.) are in a secure area, especially at night. Do not feed wildlife. Predators go where the prey is.
A cougar needs at least 80-160 kilometres to breed, raise young, hunt and survive. Their home areas change with the time of year, habitat quality and what prey is available.
Cougars are most active at dusk and dawn.
If you are out hiking, biking, jogging or walking to school, being in a group would be best. Keep small children within reach, have an adult at the front and rear of the group. If you are alone, consider taking a bell, or whistle.
Cougars are fairly shy and will stay away from crowds and noise.
If you do happen to meet up with a cougar that does not run away, stay calm.
My husband was telling our kids that if they see a cougar, they are to stand their ground. Do not run.
Running triggers the predatory nature of a cougar and that can lead to an attack.
Keep eye contact, watch what
the cougar is doing, use a loud voice, and speak firmly. Try to gain elevation - stand on a curb, a rock or raise your arms to make yourself larger.
Throw whatever you may have in your hands at the cougar and then clap loudly.
The goal is to scare off the cougar.
When you feel safe, back away slowly and leave the area.
If you do encounter a cougar, please report the incident to the RAPP Line at 1-877-952-7277.
Kim Plumley writes about Lantzville.
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