North Okanagan residents are being reminded that cougars are among their neighbours.
With big cats being spotted throughout the region, the Ministry of Environment is urging residents to minimize the potential for encounters that could put them and cougars at risk.
“Their primary food source is deer but they will eat pets and livestock,” said Ken Owens, conservation officer.
On Monday, a male cougar had to be destroyed after it had killed an alpaca, two sheep and a llama in Lumby, near J.W. Inglis Elementary.
“Considering the cougar was killing livestock in proximity to a school and residence, we set traps,” said Owens.
The 130-pound animal was about four-years-old and a decision was made to put the cat down.
“If you allow the cat to continue doing that, more animals (livestock) will be killed at that property or at another property. Relocation doesn’t work,” said Owens of issues of cougar territory and cats being used to livestock and pets as a food source.
To reduce the possibility of cougars visiting your property, residents are urged to bring pet food inside as it lures raccoons and other small animals that can be prey for cougars.
Use wildlife-resistant garbage containers or storage sheds. Garbage attracts small animals that, in turn, attract cougars.
Don’t allow pets to roam outside during dusk, dawn and at night. Bring them inside or secure them in a kennel with a secure top.
Close off open spaces under structures. Areas under porches and decks can provide shelter for prey animals.
Prune dense vegetation near your house and buildings where cougars can hide. Cougars avoid open areas without brush to serve as cover.
Adding motion detecting lighting to areas around your home can deter cougars who prefer to move about undetected.
Provide sturdy, secure covered shelters to protect hobby livestock at night.
Because of their small size children are more vulnerable to cougars. Do not leave them unattended.
Owens says it’s important that residents in the region take action to protect themselves and livestock, as well as ensuring cougars don’t have to be destroyed.
“A cougar is only doing what it’s naturally hard-wired to do (look for food).”