A cougar is presumably still on the prowl near Nanaimo River after attacking dogs in the same area on consecutive weekends, killing one of them.
Sgt. Stuart Bates of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service said the “similar” incidents involved a young cougar attacking dogs in the Jump Bridge area near Nanaimo River Road. A small dog attacked May 9 had to be put down, though a larger dog involved in a May 2 attack wasn’t injured, Bates said.
He said conservation officers searched the area with hounds, but said small animals don’t have as strong a scent and the cougar wasn’t located.
“Had we found it, we would have put it down,” Bates said. “I know people want us to relocate it, but if it can’t survive on its own, relocating it is not an option.”
He said based on reports, conservation officers believe the cougar is on its own and has demonstrated a “lack of ability” to hunt for its own food.
He said BCCOS wouldn’t generally put up signs warning of cougars because he said people should expect that wild animals are in the region’s forested areas.
“In this case because it’s the same location, same incident and we know that people are going to go there again for the weekend, so we wanted to make sure people knew,” Bates said. “Otherwise, normally we just tell people, anywhere in a wooded area anywhere on Vancouver Island, assume there’s a cougar there. Don’t be fearful, just be vigilant.”
He said there was another reported cougar sighting near the northern end of Jingle Pot Road and the Nanaimo Parkway on May 3.
Bates said his best advice for avoiding encounters with cougars is for dog walkers to resist letting their pets run off-leash.
“It keeps them closer to you, which keeps them safer and it prevents the opportunity for the dog to go find something like a bear or a cougar and bring it back. We’ve had cases of that,” he said.