Lessons to be learned from a BC bear and an Ontario cougar

Two wild animals are safe after conservation officers were able to take action and remove them from potential conflict situations in the last week.

In the small town of Cobourg, Ontario (about one and a half hours east of Toronto), a cougar lounging in a backyard prompted a bit of excitement. According to CTV News, the big cat was seen wandering in backyards for a few days prior to his capture.

“[He] just sauntered around like he owned the place,” one witness told CTV.

Police stood by as conservation officers used a whole chicken and a steak as bait to lure the cougar into a large live trap. He was successfully captured last Friday night.

It is now believed that the cougar was likely a captive animal who either escaped or was released from his enclosure – which is why he was so calm and comfortable with many people around.

This is not the first time that a large, wild animal has roamed streets after a life of captivity – and it serves as a stark reminder: once fed or acclimatized to people, conflict is sure to follow. If it were not for the quick actions of conservation officers (COs) and a relatively calm group of community members, the numerous OPP officers standing nearby likely would have killed the cougar.

On the west coast, a bear was sighted near a North Vancouver Safeway, reported CTV News. When wildlife officials arrived, the bear had scaled a tree – leaving the COs needing a fire truck ladder to get enough height to safely tranquilize her.

A safety net was first placed on the ground – just in case she fell – but the bear was safely caught and relocated. The one message the COs had for the media? Don’t feed bears.

It again appears that human negligence led to this potential conflict situation. Garbage left in the open and not sealed in waste containers likely led the bear into the area.

In both of these stories, the animals were fortunate. But too often, they are not. The first reaction of many municipalities and landowners is to kill animals to eliminate a perceived threat; the reason for the animals’ presence is rarely considered.

By promoting our co-existence message, we are able to help municipalities develop strategies that prevent conflict – and mitigate it with non-lethal measures when it does occur. Our fur-bearing friends need help. Will you answer the call?

Photo by Tracy Riddell

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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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