A cougar was shot and killed by a conservation officer after it stalked a security guard at a Ladysmith lumber mill.
An adult male cougar was killed at the Western Forest Products' Saltair mill Sunday morning (Sept. 22).
It's the second cougar killed near Nanaimo in two weeks.
Normally shy, solitary creatures, cougars usually keep their distance from humans. When they behave threateningly, wildlife officers say their options are limited.
Unlike the recent situation on Icarus Drive in north Nanaimo, conservation officers could find no link between the animal's behaviour and feeding of wildlife. But once a wild cat behaves in a threatening manner toward humans, it must be put down.
"I didn't see a large deer population or any reports of people feeding deer," said Steve Ackles, Nanaimo conservation officer.
A company security guard noticed the animal follow him as he made his way into the guard house.
Once inside the building, the animal continued to watch him, so he called the B.C. Ministry of Environment.
The call came at about 7:30 a.m. "We got a report that a cougar was stalking a night watchman at the mill," Ackles said.
"The cougar was sitting there outside the guard shack while he was on the phone reporting it."
By the time Ackles got there, it had been chased up a tree by dogs. Another officer then shot it with a shotgun at close range.
"That was the safest way to do it."
In such situations, wildlife officers must make public safety a priority over everything else, including conservation, if necessary.
This cougar had exhibited threatening behaviour. Unlike bears, which can be successfully relocated, wild cats are extremely protective of territories that can cover hundreds of hectares.
"If I relocate a cougar into another cougar's territory one of them will die, either by starvation or (aggression)." Ackles said once, when he relocated a cougar to an area near Buckley Bay, he got a call three months later that the animal had shown up on Denman Island, emaciated, killing sheep.
There was plenty of deer available where he'd left the cougar, "so that tells me another, larger cat said: 'You can't do that in my territory.' " DBellaart@nanaimodailynews.com 250-729-4235
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