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Boardwalk cougar is collared and being studied

Tyler Waugh

A cougar reported near the Beaver Boardwalk last week is collared and her movements have been tracked and studied by researchers at the University of Alberta.

Chris Watson, fish and wildlife officer for the Hinton district, says that the research shows how the cougar in question is an example of an animal successfully adapting to human activity.

“Not only has she been able to successfully live within town and not cause problems, over the past year and a half she has successfully reared three kittens to adulthood all within a very small home range,” said Watson.

Casey Hore was walking with her friend and two kids and were around 15 metres past the beaver lodge when they heard a woman scream ‘Cougar, keep your kids close!’

Hore said she looked down the pathway and the cougar went right across about 30 metres away with a dog on its tail. 

“It just went up and I heard all the trees just cracking all the way up. We stood still hoping the cat wouldn’t make a turn and come back,”

said Hore, adding that the group made its way back to the Town trail.

“The dog came back too – the dog’s name is Pepper. The cat was there looking at a lady, don’t know who she was. The cougar was twice as big as the dog.”

Hore said it was her first time seeing a cougar in the wild and felt ill prepared for an encounter, in hindsight. She said she will be bringing her bear spray, a big stick and a bell with her on walks in the woods now. She’s also going to research how to react during a cougar encounter.

Watson said there is a large billboard that exists in the area with some valuable information on cougars and other large animals.

He says there is insufficient information to suggest that Fish and Wildlife officers need to action this complaint further than posting signs and creating general awareness that cougars are in the area.  

“Over the years we have had a multitude of sightings and encounters with cougars reported within our community. These incidents have ranged from both deer and elk being preyed upon by cougars near Maxwell and Thompson Lake, to a cougar den site being utilized along Maskuta creek, or maybe just a fleeting glimpse of a cat as it crosses an establish hiking trail,” Watson said.  

“An animal that shows interest in pets or people or one that approaches in a crouching manner while intently starring at a pet is obviously far more concerning than a cougar which flees or departs when encountered on our trail systems.”

He went on to say that as deer and elk continue to reside within town limits, predators which depend of these animals to survive are likely to visit and travel through our community as part of their established territories. He also pointed out that whenever officers are compelled to remove an animal from an area that the action can have unintended consequences.

“This often opens up a territory which these former animals once fiercely defended.  It may in fact open up an area to a juvenile animal that may present far greater challenges for officer staff and the community’s safety as a whole,” he said.   

For more information on cougars in Alberta please visit our website

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