The window of opportunity for the COS to respond to cougar issues is very limited, so the service asks the public to report conflict/sightings of cougars as soon as possible. (Black Press file photo)

Report cougar sightings ASAP, advises West Kootenay CO

Recent reports from Fruitvale describe a cougar stalking along Mill Road and near the BV Arena

Cougar sightings should be reported to conservation immediately – not a day-or-so later.

That’s the advice from local Conservation Officer Blair Thin following accounts of a recent cougar stalking along Old Mill Road and Green Road near the Beaver Valley arena.

“After a quick review of the reports we have received,” Thin began. “It appears that most of the complaints the COS (Conservation Officer Service) has received have been anecdotal and are at least 24 hours ‘old’ before being reported to us.”

The COS recommends reports of conflict and/or sightings of cougars be reported as soon as possible.

Thin said, “As the window of opportunity for the COS to respond to cougar issues is very limited.”

Of the handful of complaints recently received, he confirmed that all the cougar reports originated from Fruitvale.

“Which is not surprising,” he told the Trail Times.

“Considering Fruitvale is a rural area with a healthy population of prey species which would be the attractions for the predators.”

In the event of a cougar lurking near homes, Thin provided a list of recommendations on how to react.

First, the person must remain calm.

“The cougar is likely just passing through the neighbourhood and will hopefully move on,” Thin explained.

He reminds people to keep away from the cougar, tell others to do the same, and bring children and pets inside until the cougar has left.

“Feed pets indoors, or if fed outdoors, bring in any uneaten food as the smell of pet food may attract cougars in addition to the pets (potential prey) themselves,” Thin said.

“And keep your pets indoors, especially at night. Cats and small dogs that are left to free-range can become easy prey targets.”

He also advises homeowners to light walkways, remove any heavy vegetation or landscaping near the house, store garbage in cans with tight-fitting lids to minimize odours, and avoid feeding wildlife or landscaping with shrubs and plants that deer prefer to eat.

Additionally, homeowners should determine if the cougar has been attracted to the location or is in the locale as a result of poorly managed attractants being present, such as backyard chickens or unsecured garbage.

If a cougar is hanging around a residential neighbourhood, suspected of killing pets, or if the animal becomes threatening or aggressive towards people, Thin urges a call to the COS centre at 1.877.952.7277.

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