Chilliwack residents are being reminded to be careful with food scraps, bird feeders, compost piles and fruit trees as half a dozen bears have been spotted in and around the community in the last week.
And now a resident on the Squiala reserve, which is surrounded by the city and residential neighbourhoods, said he spotted a young cougar recently.
Robert Jimmie said he and his wife and son saw the young cougar on farmland on Squiala between Evans Road and the McIntosh Drive neighbourhood near A.D. Rundle midle school.
“It was seen in front of our band hall a few days ago,” Jimmie said.
He added that there have a been a group of cougars around for a few years now, and his dog was killed last year. He thinks these particular cats might be out on their own away from their mother hunting for the first time.
“I’m hoping you can help let my neighbourhood know that there is lots of wildlife in the area,” he said. “Watch kids close, the cougar will prey on kids for they are small and defenseless.”
According to an interactive online wildlife reporting website, the B.C. Conservation Officer Service (BCCOS) report a cougar sighting in Chilliwack on May 29.
Since then, the BCCOS reported six bear sightings in the city to the British Columbia Conservation Foundation’s WildSafeBC Wildlife Alert Reporting Program (WARP).
The site is an interactive mapping program that lets users identify areas where animal sightings have occurred, find out what the attractants were, the date and time, outcomes and the source.
There were four bear sightings locally between May 30 and June 3, one was a food-conditioned bear another was injured or distressed. In one case the attractant was listed as a bird feeder.
There was also a sighting on Chilliwack Mountain on June 1 of a food-conditioned bear attracted by garbage.
There have also been sightings of food-conditioned bears in the Eastern Hillsides and the Chilliwack River Valley in recent days.
Tips on avoiding wildlife encounters in residential areas, according to the WARP website:
• Keep your garbage in or secured until the day of collection. Garbage is the number one attractant cited in reports to the provincial hotline.
• Manage your fruit trees: Don’t let windfalls accumulate and pick fruit as it ripens. If you don’t want the fruit, consider: accessing a fruit gleaning group in your community, washing the blossoms off in the spring so the fruit doesn’t set, or replacing the tree with a non-fruit bearing variety.
• Don’t put out bird feeders when bears are active: A kilo of bird seed has approximately 8,000 calories and is a great reward for a hungry bear.
• Keep your compost working properly with lots of brown materials and a regular schedule of turning.
• If you have livestock or backyard chickens use a properly installed and maintained electric fence to keep bears and livestock apart.