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.
According to one report, the cougar was chasing golf balls and showed no fear of groups of humans.
Cougars are rarely seen, much less known to take an interest in humans, according to Doyle. A cougar chased a pair of mountain bikers four years ago, but otherwise reports of sightings are rare.
Doyle believes that the cougar 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 have to be destroyed before it could potentially hurt somebody.”
The body of the male cougar has undergone a medical examination to determine if the animal had any obvious injury or illness that might explain its behaviour. Culture samples were taken for tests, but otherwise the animal appeared to be healthy.
“It’s difficult to determine the health of the animal, but the initial examination was that this appeared to be a healthy cougar,” said Doyle.
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.
Since the cougar was killed there have been other cougar sightings in the Whistler area, one at Lost Lake and one on a local golf course. Doyle said the information was second-hand, but in both cases it appears that the cougar acted normally and avoided human contact. The Pique also received a report of a cougar sighting in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park.
“It makes sense to have cougars around Whistler when there is prey here, and we know that there are deer and other animals,” said Doyle.”
However, he said it is unlikely that other cougars will take as much interest in people as the one that was destroyed. However, people should always assume that cougars are in woods, and take precautions.
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, try to pick up rocks and sticks to use as weapons, but do not crouch down too far or when the animal is close and always maintain eye contact.
Never turn your back on a wild animal. If attacked, 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. Also, if you come across a dead animal in the woods that may have been killed by a cougar, leave the area immediately.