Young cougar destroyed in Langford after woman chased on trail

Urban sightings are rare, conservation officer says

A cougar that sent a woman running in fear Monday morning has been destroyed in Langford, while the potential of another in the area was being investigated.

Several reports of cougar sightings, starting at approximately 6 a.m. that day, prompted B.C. conservation officer Peter Pauwels to investigate an area of the Galloping Goose Trail between Sooke Road and Jacklin Road, behind the Glen Lake Inn. One of them came from a woman who said the cougar chased her before she reported the incident to West Shore RCMP.

“Cougars are active all year long; they can come at anytime,” Pauwels said. “We don’t usually get them this close into a busy urban area, however, and the behaviour of chasing a woman is very unusual.”

The young adult male cat “looked a little thin,” he said, adding such erratic behaviour as it demonstrated can sometimes mean there is something wrong with the animal. Accompanied by two cougar hounds and their trainer, Pauwels found and destroyed the 80-pound cougar in a thicket of bushes along the creek bed at about 9 a.m.

“Normally they stick to natural sources of prey,” he said.

“The fact it was in an urban area leads us to believe something is not quite right.”

Cougars can sometimes be affected by diseases such as distemper, a virus that can change the behaviour in felines and sometimes be fatal, Pauwels said, who had yet to examine the carcass at press time.

The big cats usually travel alone, but sometimes a mother will travel with her kittens, and young siblings can travel together for a time before they move on to life alone. One report from Monday indicated a sighting of two cougars together, which Pauwels was investigating Monday.

For more information about cougar sightings visit http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/cos/info/wildlife_human_interaction/docs/cougars.html.

alim@vicnews.com

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