When a cougar jumped some fences into backyards at Cultus Lake Park last week, it the “biggest neighbourhood excitement in over 40 years,” according to resident Fay Herle.
At approximately 3 p.m. on May 15 the cougar ran up Herle’s neighbour’s driveway in the residential area near Sunnyside Boulevard and Oak Street.
Herle said the cat jumped three or four fences eventually settling in the corner of one backyard and hunkered down.
Sgt. Don Stahl of the BC Conservation Officer Service said they were called by the RCMP who had the cougar surrounded. When conservation officers arrived, Stahl said the cat was hiding in thick brush on the front yard of private property.
“It looked like it was trying to cross the road and get to the day-use area at Sunnyside,” Stahl said Tuesday.
Given that it was Friday afternoon of a long weekend, and Cultus Lake had only recently started its phased in re-opening, the area was quite busy with families.
Stahl said RCMP and fisheries officers created a line between the cougar and the day-use area. They then decided the only safe thing to do was put it down.
“It was euthanized by firearm.”
The cat was healthy looking, Stahl said. It was a two-year-old male.
Asked why the cougar could not have been tranquilized and relocated, Stahl explained that once struck by a dart, it takes five to 10 minutes for the drugs to kick in. Unlike a bear in a tree that has nowhere to go, the cougar in this situation would have likely run off, which would have been unpredictable.
“If a cougar would have been on the Lakeshore Drive side, the mountain side, we could have used bear bangers or hit it with rubber bullets,” Stahl said. “But this was literally across the street from the day-use area. This really reduced the options of what we could do.”
Stahl, who is in charge of the region from White Rock to Boston Bar, said it is relatively uncommon to have to euthanize a cougar.
There was an aggressive cougar that “terrorized” hikers on Teapot Hill in the summer of 2013.
And Stahl recounted killing a cougar years before that after the cat attacked a nine-year-old girl near Kawkawa Lake years before that.
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