By Andrew Mitchell
There is a very good chance that Conservation Officer Chris Doyle destroyed the same cougar that had chased cyclists on two occasions in the past month and was sighted up to 20 more times in the Whistler area.
On Wednesday, July 4, at approximately 7 p.m. the Whistler RCMP and Conservation Services were called after a cougar was sighted at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler Golf Course.
“We got a report that a cougar was stalking golfers,” he said. “When we attended the call we initially couldn’t find it, but a short time later another golfer pointed it out, because it had been watching them. When we walked up to it, it didn’t try to walk away or run off, and it was destroyed.”
The cougar was killed on the 13 th hole of the golf course.
Cougars are rarely seen, much less known to take an interest in humans. A cougar chased a pair of mountain bikers four years ago, but otherwise reports of sightings are rare.
The cougar that was killed on Wednesday was likely the same cougar that chased a lone mountain biker on June 2, then another pair of cyclists on July 3. It was also seen on local roads, in backyards, looking in windows, and on a porch in the Emerald Estates subdivision.
“Cougars are not usually interested in people, and this one was definitely interested,” said Doyle. “We pretty much knew, given its past history, that it was going to be destroyed before it could hurt somebody.”
The body of the male cougar will undergo a medical examination to determine if the animal had an injury or illness that might explain its behaviour. After the examination the animal may be skinned, if a permit is issued for its pelt, or placed in the woods for other predators who feed on other dead animals — a natural end for most cougars and the most environmentally-friendly way of disposing of the cougar’s remains.
Doyle cautions that there may be other cougars in the Whistler area, as their presence depends more on the availability of prey rather than territory. However, it is unlikely that other cougars will take as much interest in people.
If anyone sees a cougar they should contact Conservation Services at 1-877-952-7277.
If confronted by a cougar in the wild, people should pick up any children, try to make themselves as big as possible, make loud noises, and back away slowly. If possible pick up rocks and sticks to use as weapons, but do not crouch down too far and try to maintain eye contact.
Never turn your back on a wild animal. If attacked by a cougar, fight back aggressively and go for the cougar’s face and eyes.
Their main prey is deer and occasionally smaller animals like rabbits. The presence of these species may indicate the presence of a cougar.