The Sunshine Coast conservation officer service is “waiting for a hot situation” after a spate of cougar sightings in the Welcome Woods area of Halfmoon Bay.
“There’s really nothing we can do until we have something real hot and current,” conservation officer Sgt. Murray Smith said Oct. 8.
Smith said there had been multiple reports from residents of a cougar in the area during the past two weeks.
“We attended and the RCMP also attended, but he was gone. So now we’re waiting for a hot situation,” Smith said.
Anyone who sees a cougar, he said, should immediately report it by calling 1-877-952-7277.
Smith said that despite some false reports that have been circulating in the neighbourhood, no pets have been killed or gone missing since the cougar sightings began.
“Not one report has indicated that,” he said. “And there’s so many coyotes in the area, so it would be so hard to tell unless it was actually seen in the act.”
Smith said there is a good possibility the cougar is the same one that was reported in the area in late June and early July.
On June 10, officials euthanized an adult cougar in Bonniebrook after 17 sightings were reported over three days and the cougar displayed no fear of human presence.
Meanwhile, Smith said the conservation officer service is busy dealing with bear problems and trying to educate the public about avoiding conflicts.
“When you consider that the bears are in a mad frenzy for the next six weeks, when they’re going to be eating 10,000 calories a day, we’ve got to make sure it’s natural food they’re eating and not attract them to our community,” he said, adding that fallen apples are a major attractant at this time of year.
Smith noted that it’s not unlawful to feed deer, but the conservation officer service could take issue with the practice if it was attracting bears.
“The only thing is, if you feed deer, sometimes bears come into the community,” he said.
Smith ruled out deer feeding in the Welcome Woods area as a cause for the cougar’s repeated visits.
“There are deer all through Halfmoon Bay,” he said. “Whether the deer are being fed there or not, there’s still lots of deer around.”
If confronted with a cougar, a person should raise their arms to make themselves appear as large and imposing as possible, be aggressive in tone of voice, keep their eyes on the cougar and walk slowly backwards.