Dr. Helen Schwantje

A rare look at a young cougar

Montessori students in Metchosin view dissection for education on wildlife

A large chunk of hairy meat is pulled from a cougar’s stomach, as students from West-Mont Montessori school guess what the one-year old feline’s last meal was.

Children forgot about the rank smell as they peered in closer, guessing “deer,” “rabbit,” and “sheep.” One boy guessed correctly with his shout of “goat!”

Dr. Helen Schwantje, provincial wildlife veterinarian and Peter Pauwels, a conservation officer with the Ministry of Environment, brought a euthanized cougar to the Metchosin private school to perform a dissection for students last Friday.

The male cougar was euthanized in September in Central Saanich after it attacked and killed several goats on a farm.

Before the dissection could begin Pauwels explained the cougar’s death.

“In this case we had no choice, it’s always a sad thing to put any wildlife down. At least now we can learn from it,” he said.

Many of the students sat enthralled when Schwantje began her presentation, but held their noses due to the smell of the thawing, decomposing carnivore. Some students quietly left the room when cat was first cut open.

“On CSI they talk about bruising and puncture wounds, then I think boy they have a nice species to work with because they don’t have to work with all the hair,” Schwantje said.

After looking at layers of fat and muscle, the wildlife vet determined the cougar was a very healthy, young cat.

She took samples of blood, tongue, ear and spleen to be sent to other scientists studying cougars. “Cougars are very secretive animals … you can’t just go up to one and ask it for a blood sample,” Schwantje explained.

“Most often veterinarians are working with dogs, cats and horses,” Pauwels said. “Dr. Helen is working on all sorts of high profile animals like cougars, grizzlies, moose and mountain sheep.”

“And frogs and bats,” Schwantje chimed in.

charla@goldstreamgazette.com

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Dashcam records near-miss by bad driver near Sooke

Driver crossed four lanes of traffic and back over again, barely missing three other vehicles

Protesters block entrance to Victoria government building to support Wet’suwet’en First Nation

A letter with four demands was delivered to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources

George Jay parents tired of dog poop left on school’s fields

Parents advocate for stronger fines, more signage in the neighbourhood

PHOTOS: Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow stopped paper carriers

More than 180 carriers brave the snow for deliveries

VIDEO: Greater Victoria mom shares ‘insane’ experience of viral dinosaur video

Tabitha Cooper filmed her costumed sons meeting their grandma at the Victoria International Airport

B.C. player becomes only second Canadian to enter Hall of Fame of Baseball

Walker received 76.6 percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

Police suspect foul play in Cowichan Tribes death

Police are looking at foul play in relation to a death on… Continue reading

Hospital patient pleads guilty to dumbbell assault of nurse in Abbotsford

Neale Heath admits to assault causing bodily harm in attack last September

‘Epic sky palace’: B.C. businesses help create dream treehouse for boy recovering from cancer

‘It was kind of a bright shining beacon at the end of a horrible, dark tunnel’

VIDEO: Nickelback gears up for nostalgia tour

Canadian band joins Stone Temple Pilots for a summer tour that includes just one stop in Canada

B.C. teacher suspended for poking student in stomach, pulling another’s ponytail

Teacher also swore in classroom, used Facebook to contact students

Most Read