The BC Conservation Officer Service has been busy in Kelowna for the past 36 hours after two cougar attacks near the Woodhaven Nature Conservancy Park.
Conservation officers responded to both attacks, which occurred at night and claimed the lives of a miniature horse, a deer and two cougars.
The two cougars involved in the miniature horse’s death had to be humanely euthanized, while in the second incident officers removed a deer carcass from nearby homes.
Conservation Officer Ken Owens says cougars are nocturnal hunters and feed on available food sources in the areas where they live.
“This diet may include primarily deer which also live in the city of Kelowna. However, when humans occupy areas in or near wildlife habitat and people choose to keep livestock such as goats, chickens sheep and miniature horses – sightings of cougars and attacks on livestock and pets may occur.”
Owens says domestic animals and pets similar in shape, size and smell to wild prey can also become prey for cougar hunting.
“Cougars are intelligent animals and learn to hunt through positive experiences. Cougars that have learned to hunt livestock and pets near residences can threaten the safety of other pets and livestock in the neighborhood,” says Owens.
BCCOS reminds residents to prevent conflicts with cougars by not feeding wild animals and feral cats, including deer, raccoons and other small mammals. People are reminded to keep dogs and cats indoors, especially from dusk to dawn, small dogs and cats can fall prey to cougars.
“Garbage attracts small mammals, which in turn attract cougars. Livestock and small animals, such as goats, sheep, chickens and miniature horses attract cougars. Free-range livestock should be kept in secure enclosures and away from forest boundaries,” says Owens. .