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Brackendale residents encouraged to watch for cougar

Recent cougar sightings have conservation officers asking for help

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An incident first reported as a cougar attack has the Conservation Officer Service warning Brackendale residents to be aware of a cougar reported in the neighbourhood.

Whistler-based Conservation Officer (CO) Tim Schumacher reported he was called by the Squamish RCMP Friday night after a Brackendale resident reported his dog may have been attacked by a cougar.

Schumacher said he drove down from Whistler at 10 p.m. to investigate. He found that the dog wasn’t hurt and Schumacher concluded the dog was more likely involved in a conflict with one or more raccoons.

Schumacher said that he learned from the dog owner that the resident was on the deck of his home and heard hissing sounds. The dog was allowed out of the home and it was called back in after the dog owner heard an encounter between the dog and some form of wildlife thought to be a cougar.

“It came back into the house shaking,” Schumacher was told by the dog owner. “The RCMP and I took a look around, couldn’t locate any cougar and did talk to a security guard who had seen several raccoons in the area.”

Investigating further, Schumacher said he learned that a number of people in the neighbourhood had seen a cougar over the last few days. Those sightings, said Schumacher, were not reported to conservation officers.

“We want to know about this kind of thing so that we can attend and verify,” Schumacher said of any cougar sightings in the Sea to Sky area.

Cougar sightings, and any other wildlife concerns, should be reported by calling the Conservation Officer Service reporting line at 1-877-952-7277.

Conservation officers recommend remaining calm in the event of a cougar encounter. It is important to maintain eye contact and try to walk away slowly from the animal without turning away from it. Trying to look as large as possible might intimidate a cougar and discourage it from becoming aggressive.

In the unlikely event of a cougar attack, conservation officers recommend fighting back by using anything close at hand as a weapon. Focusing attacks on a cougar’s face and eyes is suggested.

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