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Cougars primarily occupy the southern third of British Columbia and are considered mysterious and elusive. The cougar is Canada's largest cat, with long tails that may be one-third of their total length. 

Cougar facts
Children and cougars
Tips for around your home and backyard
Hiking in cougar areas
If you meet a cougar
If a cougar acts aggressively

Cougar facts 

  • An adult male cougar weighs between 63-90 kg and a female cougar weighs between 40-50 kg.
  • The cougar's primary prey is deer but it will also feed on wild sheep, elk, rabbits, beaver, raccoons, grouse and occasionally, livestock.
  • Cougars are most active at dusk and dawn. However, they may roam and hunt at any time of day and night and in all seasons.
  • During late spring and summer, one to two-year old cougars become independent of their mothers. While establishing a home range, young cougars will roam widely in search of unoccupied territory - this is when cougars are most likely to come in conflict with humans.
  • Cougar tracks have four toes with three distinct lobes at the base of the pad; claws are retractable and usually do not leave imprints.
  • Generally cougar are solitary animals. If tracks show cougars traveling together it probably indicates a female with kittens.

Most British Columbians will live all their lives without a glimpse of a cougar, let alone have a confrontation with one. Conflict between cougars and humans is extremely rare. It is important to remember that cougars are wild animals and their actions are unpredictable.

Although a cougar attack is highly unlikely, it is always good to be prepared. 

Children and cougars

  • Cougar seem to be attracted to children, possibly because their high-pitched voices, small size and erratic movements make it difficult for cougars to separate children from prey.
  • Talk to children and teach them what to do if they encounter a cougar.
  • Encourage children to play outdoors in groups, and supervise children playing outdoors.
  • Consider a dog for your children as an early-warning sign.
  • Although dogs offer little value as a deterrent to cougars, they may distract a cougar from attacking a human.
  • Consider erecting a fence around play areas.
  • Make sure children are home before dusk, and stay inside until after dawn.

Tips for around your home and backyard 

  • Do not attract or feed wildlife, especially deer or raccoons. They may in turn attract cougars.
  • Roaming pets are easy prey. Bring pets in at night if possible.
  • Do not feed pets outside. This not only attracts young cougars but many small animals such as mice and raccoons that cougars prey on.

Hiking in cougar areas 

  • Make noise to prevent surprising a cougar.
  • Carry a sturdy walking stick to be used as weapon if necessary.
  • Keep children close at hand.
  • Watch for cougar tracks and signs. Cougars cover unconsumed portions of their kills with soil and leaf litter. Avoid these food caches.
  • Cougar kittens are usually well hidden. However, if you do stumble upon cougar kittens, do not approach or attempt to pick them up. Leave the area immediately, as a female will defend her young.

If you meet a cougar 

  • Never approach a cougar. Although cougars will normally avoid a confrontation, all cougars are unpredictable.
  • Cougars feeding on a kill may be dangerous.
    Always give a cougar an avenue of escape.
    Stay calm. Talk to the cougar in a confident voice.
  • Pick up all children off the ground immediately. Children frighten easily and their rapid movements may provoke an attack.
  • Do not run. Try to back away from the cougar slowly. Sudden movements or flight may trigger an instinctive attack.
  • Do not turn your back on the cougar. Face the cougar and remain upright.
  • Do all you can to enlarge your image. Don't crouch down or try to hide. Pick up sticks or branches and wave them about.

If a cougar acts aggressively 

  • Arm yourself with a stick, throw rocks, and speak loudly and firmly. Convince the cougar that you are a threat.
  • If a cougar attacks, fight back.
  • If you experience a confrontation with a cougar, immediately inform the nearest office of the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks (604.582.5383) and ask for the Conservation Officer service or call the Port Moody Police Department at 604.461.3456.

The above information is summarized from The Safety Guide to Cougars, A Wildlife Safety Series, developed and provided by the provincial Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks, Wildlife Branch.

 

  

 

Last updated: 16/09/2011 10:50:41 AM