In Penticton, on Duncan Avenue East, a woman, Roxanne Brower woke up at 2:00 AM to let her cat out. Shortly after she heard a strange noise a few minutes later. She went outside and found a Cougar in her yard with her cat fully in it’s mouth, describing it looking like a large cat with a mouse in it’s mouth. She posted on Facebook “I yelled to break it up and saw what looked like a huge cat with a black mouse. I yelled again and he dropped what was in his mouth.” The cougar then ran off into the bushes near the water reservoir.
The Conservation Officer David Cox said that they are fully aware of the situation, and that there have been sightings of the Cougar in the Penticton area over the last few weeks. The Conservation Office has stated that there is no immediate threat to humans but people should be closely watching and monitoring their pets while outside.
“It is important for residents, especially on the edges of town to exercise caution while walking pets or recreating in these outlying areas. We ask people with livestock or hobby farms to practice good husbandry to prevent livestock depredation and conflict,” Cox added.
Cougars, or mountain lions, are one of the most iconic wildlife species in British Columbia. Found throughout the rugged mountainous regions and dense forests of the province, cougars have long been an integral part of the BC landscape. As apex predators, they play a vital role in maintaining healthy ecosystems, while their presence also brings a sense of wildness to the province. However, due to human activities such as habitat loss and hunting, these majestic animals face numerous threats today. It is estimated that there are currently between 5,000 and 8,000 cougars living in BC. However, their population is not stable and continues to decline. Cougars have also been found to be declining at a faster rate than other large carnivores in North America.
The British Columbia Conservation Officer Service (COS) has reported an alarming increase in human-cougar interactions over the past few years. From 2016 to 2019 alone, there were 27 confirmed reports of cougar attacks on humans resulting in 3 fatalities. In 2020, there were another 11 reported incidents with 1 fatality. As a result, the COS has implemented a series of public awareness campaigns to educate people on how to take precautionary steps while outdoors. In addition to the COS, the University of British Columbia (UBC) has also been working on a collaborative research project with BC Parks and the US Forest Service (USFS) on human-cougar interactions called “Coexistence in the Pacific Northwest.