The Conservation Officer Service is asking the public to keep an eye out for a roaming cougar that’s been spotted several times around Whistler in the last few days.
There have been at least half a dozen reported sightings since Thursday, July 9, spanning from Alpha Lake to the Riverside RV Park on Mons Road. It was even spotted near the bus loop on Village Gate Boulevard.
“We’re concerned with a cougar being so active in the same area,” said conservation officer Simon Gravel, who urged people to travel in groups when possible, especially at night.
“At night when the bars are closing, walking back home by yourself is probably not a good call right now,” he said. “You should be with someone else or take a taxi home.”
People with pets should also be vigilant, keeping dogs on leash at all times and cats and other small animals indoors.
Also take a moment to ensure any wildlife attractants, like garbage, are secured.
So far the cougar has not displayed any aggressive or predatory behaviour, Gravel said, which is why the COS has decided not to relocate it at this point.
“Usually when a cougar is visible, it’s not a threat because cougars hunt like a house cat, they make themselves pretty stealth and invisible and use surprise to attack a prey,” Gravel noted. “The cougar is most likely (in the area) because it found a natural source of food. It could be rabbits, rats or small prey of all kinds.”
If you do encounter a cougar, the important thing to remember, Gravel said, is to never play dead or turn your back and run.
“That would be the worst behaviour to have,” he added. “Keep your eye on the cougar, make yourself big and fight back if the cougar is approaching you.”
If possible, grab a nearby stick or rock and try and scare the animal away.
To report wildlife sightings, call the Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277.