I was looking through some articles I wrote for a small local newspaper when I lived on the west coast I thought sharing one or two would be of interest for you. Let me know what you think about the article and its content. We do not have these lovely animals here in Essex County although there have been supposed sitings. Enjoy!
As many of you watch and read the news I am sure you have followed the stories about sightings and e
ven attacks from one of our local predators the cougar. As avid outdoor enthusiasts, whether we pack a leash with our four legged friends or not I thought we should learn some facts before heading out. I turned to Constable Stewart Bates from the Conservatory Officer Service to give me some particulars about what we should know before heading out to any wildlife corridor.
The information that the Conservatory Office has about cougar behaviour is based on observatory behaviour where they can then hypothesis what cougars will or will not do.
So here is what I thought you should know according to Bates. Yes there are most likely cougars in the Chemainus and surrounding areas. All sightings are considered unconfirmed as observers may misinterpret the animal but sightings are then categorized into areas so I queried the recent numbers for August to September and Chemainus has had 3 sightings and Ladysmith has had 10.
Cougars do typically stay in outlying areas and near wildlife corridors so we can assume cougars will wander into the Lake Chemainus, Stocking Creek and Holland Creek Trail areas but they would be more prevalent if the trails back onto the wilderness which Lake Chemainus and Holland Creek do.
Cougars are most active at dawn and dusk as this is when their prey is most active, and daytime sightings are not typical behaviour for the cougar. The cougar’s natural and preferred target is the racoon and deer and since they will not eat rotten meat they do tend to look for the smaller prey in the summer time; whereas in the winter time a bigger kill will keep longer but take note prey animals always go for the easiest targets. I asked when we typically see more cougars and he stated that their data shows that the numbers tend to be up in August. The proposed explanation is that fawns are then coming out of hiding with their moms and since the fawns are small they are an easy target.
Bates did say that humans do not meet the cougars typical prey profile and neither do cats nor small dogs but they are occasionally taken. So cougars will come into those areas when their preys are most active. Since cougars are naturally very curious animals a noise they may not necessarily chase them off but instead will stick around to investigate. So a cougar could come into your area on the hunt for their intended target and if they don’t make a find your pet could become the secondary target.
All sightings of cougars are important to the Conservative Officer Service and should be reported. The scent of a cougar turns cold quickly so if there is a need to track sightings the Conservative Officer Service would need this information quickly as your possible sighting may be linked to other reports their office may have.
When asked what Bates thought every pet owner should know his message is to always be vigilant wildlife corridors and do not leave your pet outside at night. To report sightings please call the Conservatory Officer Service at the 24 hour 7 days a week phone number 1-877-952-7277.