Cougar conflicts up in Alberta – and we’re the ones to blame

Cougar Living With Wildlife
Data published by The Calgary Herald shows that an increase in province-wide conflict with cougars correlates precisely to a vast increase in hunting of the big cats.

“A total of 237 cougars diedbetween April 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013, with 139 killed during the hunt; 55 caught in traps or killed by vehicles; and, another 43 dealt with as problem wildlife or by landowners — according to the latest statistics available,” reports the Herald.

What is shocking to The Fur-Bearers, however, is that the increase in conflicts correlates almost exactly to the trapping and hunting – and no one else seems to have picked up on it.

A provincial biologist noted that the cougars are following food sources, such as deer, elk and rabbits. These species, which are prey for large carnivores like cougars, are often being fed by homeowners, causing the cougars to come closer to human-packed areas. But the scientist, as well as the newspaper, did not see the other obvious issue.

It has been well documented that when many predators are persecuted, their behaviour changes. Coyotes, for example, end up breeding in higher numbers, whereas wolves will increase their depredation of livestock due to the breakdown of their social structure.

But by either explanation – feeding of wildlife or the ongoing cougar killing – we’re clearly the ones to blame. And we’re the only ones who can provide a sustainable, long-term solution for us and for the wildlife.

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Established in 1953, The Fur-Bearers is a charitable, non-partisan organization whose goals are to end the commercial fur trade and promote solutions for wildlife coexistence in communities. Your donation is tax-deductible. Charitable registration number: 130006125RR0002

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