One of the three cougars photographed on Flume Beach in Roberts Creek last week was destroyed this week, after it revisited the Roberts Creek area.
Sunshine Coast conservation officer Dean Miller received a call on Monday, Jan. 13, from a concerned citizen who witnessed the lone cougar walking past homes on Roberts Creek Road at about 1 p.m.
"The caller believed the cougar was still in the area so I attended to the report site and eventually tracked and found the cougar," Miller said. "Basically the decision to destroy the cougar was based on the repeated sightings in the area and the proximity to the Waldorf elementary school, which was only a block away."
Miller believes the destroyed animal is one of two kits that was photographed walking along Flume Beach in Roberts Creek with their mother on Jan. 2."It seems to be similar in size and the behaviours definitely seem very similar, where it's being seen during the day and using open pathways such as roads and beaches to get from one place to another," Miller said.
He believes the lone cougar was sent away by its mother.
"In the photo [taken Jan. 2 on Flume Beach] the kits were almost at the adult stage where the mother would be kicking them out soon to fend for themselves, which usually occurs around the 12- to 14-month age mark," Miller said. "Usually they don't really know what to do at that point and so he probably was travelling back on known pathways, retracing his steps rather than embarking on new territory."
The conservation office is now waiting to see if it will receive any reports of the other kit that's also likely on its own now.
"I wouldn't be surprised if we get a call on the sibling soon in the area" Miller said. "They're not fully developed cougars yet and they don't have the hunting skills that an adult cougar would have."
The choice to destroy the lone cougar on Monday was made because there are currently "no identified release sites in the province for cougars," Miller said, noting the animal would have been moved with the same problem behaviours that could simply surface elsewhere.
"In the case of juvenile predators it's probably a death sentence for them anyway, when you put them in new territory," Miller added.
He said this is "only the second cougar that's been destroyed in 12 months" on the Coast, noting both cases were "very similar."
"It was remaining in populated areas and showing very little fear of people and, in this case, the definite factor in making the decision was the fact that the elementary school was a block away and the cougar was photographed right there on Jan. 2, so it was definitely developing a pattern," Miller said.
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