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A bump up in Cougar sightings is expected for the Spring on Vancouver Island

As spring is on its way, expect some more cougar sightings in Vancouver Island in the next few months.

Sergeant Mike Newton of the Conservation Office for North Island Zone, says that while there aren’t many sightings at the moment, that’s expected to change soon.

“Historically we know, as soon as we turn the corner towards spring-like weather, and the grass starts to grow,” said Newton.

“The deer will disperse, and once they move around, then the cougar sightings will increase, as they’ll be hunting for their primary prey.”

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While spring will see a bump, there isn’t a time with lower or higher sightings of cougars, which Newton says showcases the state of the population across the island.

“All of that indicates to us, is what we already know, that Vancouver island has a healthy cougar population,” says Newton.

“And those cougars are utilizing those green spaces within the communities, following natural prey, and are always present throughout the year.”

In situations where people encounter cougars out in an urban environment, the sightings help give officers like Newton a chance to compare it with other sightings reported to find any changes to the animal’s behavior.

Newton adds that if it’s normal behavior, they’ll just educate the public, but if there’s a pattern of confrontation between the cougar and the public, livestock, or pets, then a different action would be decided.

According to Newton, some incidents see cougars stray away from what they normally hunt.

“Sometimes cougars will not go for their natural prey, and focus more on domesticated animals, like a housecat, or dogs,” Newton adds.

“So when it comes to the public encountering a cougar, we would ask that they’d be more diligent and vigilant and prudent with how they look after their pets.”

Newton encourages people to be aware of fresh cougar sightings, and to be more careful with their pets in the event of a sighting.

For more information on who to contact, you can visit the B.C. Government Directory’s website.

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