Young cougar killed fol­low­ing at­tack on con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cer

Metro Canada (Vancouver) - - VANCOUVER - Jeff hod­son

A B.C. con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cer suf­fered mi­nor in­juries Tues­day night when he was at­tacked by a starv­ing cougar near the West Koote­nay town of Salmo.

The of­fi­cer killed the cougar in the at­tack, said Chris Doyle, deputy chief of the B.C. Con­ser­va­tion Of­fi­cer Ser­vice, adding that it was the first at­tack on an of­fi­cer that he’s en­coun­tered in his 23 years on the job.

The of­fi­cer, who is based in Castle­gar, was deal­ing with an in­jured cougar that had been struck by a pickup truck, when he was called about a young cougar try­ing to get into a house about 10 kilo­me­tres away near Salmo.

“While in­ves­ti­gat­ing this com­plaint, the of­fi­cer was at­tacked with­out provo­ca­tion by a ju­ve­nile cougar,” Doyle said. “The con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cer was forced to kill the cougar to stop the at­tack.”

Doyle de­scribed the young male as “ex­tremely ema­ci­ated.’”

Tues­day’s at­tack fol­lows a spike in the num­ber of cougar com­plaints, said Insp. Tobe Sprado, act­ing of­fi­cer-in-charge for the Con­ser­va­tion Of­fi­cer Ser­vice in the Koote­nays.

Of the 14 com­plaints in and around Salmo since April 2016, 10 have oc­curred this Fe­bru­ary, Sprado said, some­thing he at­trib­uted to deep snow con­di­tions in the Koote­nays.

“It’s quite deep … It’s loose snow. It makes it dif­fi­cult for preda­tors like cougars to prey ef­fi­ciently on their nor­mal prey,” Sprado said. “(Cougars) start to come into com­mu­ni­ties look­ing for eas­ier food source, gen­er­ally dogs and cats.”

The of­fi­cer suf­fered only mi­nor in­juries and was back on the job Wed­nes­day. Both Doyle and Sprado said such in­ci­dents are very rare and nei­ther could re­call a sim­i­lar at­tack where a con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cer was in­jured.

The Con­ser­va­tion Of­fi­cer Ser­vice is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the at­tack, as it does for all an­i­mal at­tacks on hu­mans in B.C.

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