Report conflicts with wildlife rather than sightings

It is perfectly normal to see wildlife like large cats roaming around at this time of year, and no cause for alarm

Cougar sightings around Cultus Lake and Chilliwack are not that unusual during the winter say conservation officers. What should be called in to the RAPP line are reports of sick or injured animals

Cougar sightings around Cultus Lake and Chilliwack are not that unusual during the winter say conservation officers. What should be called in to the RAPP line are reports of sick or injured animals

A cougar was spotted near Cultus Lake last week, prompting the usual calls for extra caution in Chilliwack’s back country.

There’s also been a bobcat hunting ducks at the Browne Creek Wetlands.

It is perfectly normal to see wildlife like large cats roaming around at this time of year, and no cause for alarm, said a local conservation officer.

“Throughout the winter cougars will typically be seen frequenting parts of Cultus Lake, Promontory, and Ryder Lake,” said Sgt. Steven Jacobi of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service (COS).

The reason is because they’re following the prey down from the mountainous areas. When deer and other small animals like rabbits and rodents descend from the areas with deeper snowpack, so do the big predators.

The latest wildlife sighting was reported on social media on Jan. 7, to say that a cougar was spotted heading for the trails behind Funland, near Cultus Lake.

The local school and conservation officials were given the heads-up.

Sgt. Jacobi stressed that not every wildlife sighting has to be called in on the RAPP line.

“We don’t need to hear about every sighting necessarily,” he said. “What we want to know about are any wildlife conflicts with people.”

A sign warning about wildlife in the area will only really help in a situation where people are properly prepared for an encounter.

In the case of a cougar caught out in the open, it’s recommended to stand tall.

“If you run they’ll chase you. They are very curious.”

The animal is often trying to figure out if people are food or not, he said.

“We would encourage people to throw rocks, yell at a cougar to try to scare it off, whereas if it was a black bear for example, we recommend that people talk slowly and back up, but never turn and run.”

Report any conflict with wildlife that threatens public safety, or injured wildlife by calling the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277 or report online http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/cos/info/wildlife_human_interaction/index.html

Get prepared and see tips to reduce human-wildlife conflicts at wildsafebc.com