PORT HARDY, B.C. – A Port Hardy man is mourning the death of his cat, which he suspects was killed by a cougar.

“Last night around 8 in Beaver Harbour/stories beach had my male cat Cosmo on leash just hanging out and went to check up on him. He was nowhere to be found. He’s been gone all night which isn’t like him at all, hoping someone hasn’t taken him,” Eric Blacha said in an online post early Tuesday morning.

Blacha later reported that he found Cosmo in a hole “buried by a cougar” out in the woods, and that he saw the cougar, as well.

Conservation officer Jonathan Paquin confirmed that he euthanized a cougar yesterday near the Beaver Harbour Trailer Park in Port Hardy.

Paquin told the MyComoxValleyNow.com newsroom that conservation officers used hounds to track the cougar.

“The cougar was ultimately located nearby, approximately 50 yards from where the cat was located deceased,” Paquin said. “The cougar was ultimately euthanized for public safety concerns associated to the proximity of the trailer park, and (an) elementary school was nearby, as well as we were starting to receive multiple calls of a cougar in that area that’s been frequenting residences and that sort of thing.”

Euthanizing the cougar is never the ideal outcome, Paquin said: “Nobody wants to see this outcome, but unfortunately when a cougar starts to show desensitized behaviours and becomes a public safety risk to the community, then sometimes these tough decisions are required to be made.”

According to Wildsafe BC, Cougars account roughly 2,500 calls to the Conservation Officer Service reporting line every year, however many reported cougar sightings turn out to be animals other than cougars.

Safety tips

Wildsafe BC offers these tips if you encounter a cougar:

  • Keep calm.
  • Make yourself look as large as possible and back away slowly, keeping the cougar in view, and allowing a clear exit for the cougar.
  • Pick up children and small pets immediately.
  • Never run or turn your back- sudden movements may provoke an attack.
  • If you notice that a cougar that is watching you, maintain eye contact with the cougar and speak to it in a loud firm voice.
  • Back out of the area and seek assistance or shelter.
  • If a cougar shows aggression, or begins following you, respond aggressively in all cases as cougars see you as a meal: keep eye contact, yell and make loud noises, and show your teeth.
  • Pick up nearby sticks, rocks, or whatever you have at hand to quickly to use as a weapon if necessary- crouch down as little as possible when picking things up off the ground.
  • If the cougar attacks, fight back, focusing on its facial and eye area.
  • Use rocks, sticks, bear spray, or personal belongings as weapons. You are trying to convince the cougar that you are a threat, and are not prey.