Cougars are found throughout much of B.C. and are also known as mountain lions or pumas. Cougars are generally very secretive and rarely seen. However, cougars may occasionally pass through urban settings, or when young cougars leave their parents, they start looking for their own sources of food and places to live. Sometimes they end up in urban areas, parks or hiking trails.
Prevent problems with cougars
If you know cougars are active in your area, follow these tips to keep pets safe:
- Before letting dogs into your yard, turn on the lights and make some noise – check to make sure there aren’t any unexpected animals in your yard
- Keep dogs on leash and stick to well-lit areas when walking dogs at night – avoid dark, forested wildlife areas after sunset
- Keep cats indoors, or in secure outdoor enclosures – at minimum, make sure cats come in at night
What to do if you see a cougar
Although they are skilled predators, cougar attacks are rare. However, if you see a cougar in the wild or in the city, stay calm and follow these steps:
- Make yourself look big – stand tall, raise your arms and spread your legs
- Maintain eye contact and don’t turn your head – stay focused on the cougar
- Make loud noises – yell, clap your hands, use a bear bell, or bang things together
- Don’t leave until the cougar leaves – be sure the cougar has moved on before you leave
If you have small children or a dog, pick them up or keep them close in front of you. This may feel counter intuitive, but this way you can maintain control and face the cougar. A child or dog behind you may try to run away or divert your attention from the cougar. Act like you are bigger and stronger than the cougar so they will see you as a threat.
Photo credit: Gary Schroyen