Residents in West Vancouver – and across Canada – were sadly not surprised when a young female cougar was shot and killed in a residential neighbourhood, simply for her presence.
In many communities, it has become a crime to be an animal in public, and this case is just the latest in an upsetting trend.
The Vancouver Sun reported that conservation officers originally intended to let the cougar remain where she was, as no signs of aggression had occurred. Over the course of a few days, she continued to show no signs of aggression – but she also didn’t mosey along, as the conservation officers believed she should have. When she was seen near a shopping centre – again, being non-aggressive – she was cornered and killed.
"The officer walked up to it within 15 metres and it just lay there like a house cat, which is not at all normal behaviour — completely habituated, with no fear," conservation officer Peter Busink told the Sun.
It appears that the COs at no time attempted to haze the cougar, or give her reason to leave the area. She was killed for being an animal in public.
The tranquilizing of cougars is known to be extremely difficult – and even if a successful shot is made, it can take several minutes for tranquilizers to work, leaving the cougar and anyone nearby in a potentially dangerous situation. No efforts to trap her using a large cage – the type often used when large animals like bears and lynx need to be removed from an area – were noted.
The COs did mention that residents should be removing attractants from their yards, which leads The Fur-Bearers to believe that attractants may have been involved in getting the young cougar comfortable in her public surroundings. But The Sun did not report any information of an investigation or possible enforcement of feeding/property standards laws.
This young, beautiful cougar did not have to die. She had a long life ahead of her and would have played an important role in her ecosystem. But because of the actions of humans – through encroachment on territory, feeding of wildlife, and reactive behaviour of residents and conservation officers – she will never realize that future.
Wild animals are learning to live among us – the least we can do is learn to live with them.
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