Osprey area residents experience multiple cougar encounters on New Year’s Day

Three cougar encounters and one attack occurred in the Osprey/Link Lake areas, resulting in quite the fright for residents.

Rick Law and his faithful companion

Rick Law and his faithful companion

“Residents of the Osprey and Link Lake areas are very nervous, delaying or not doing usual outdoor activities, writes Hayes Creek fire chief, Rob Miller in a news release issued this past weekend. “If they are, they carry sticks, bear spray or a firearm and walk in groups for added security.”

The following encounters were reported to Hayes Creek Fire/Rescue on Wednesday, Jan. 1:

At approximately 2:30 p.m., Kim Rampfl and her three dogs encountered a cougar while out on a walk at Link Lake. Rampfl remembered to make herself larger by putting her arms  above her head and yelling—thus scaring off the cat.

A family of three riding snowmobiles encountered a cougar at approximately 5:30 p.m. Mother and father on one machine and a their nine year old son on another.

Chief Miller said, “The call-in was convoluted, mixed up, of course, as the mother was hysterical  from seeing her son drive off into the night with a cougar chasing after him.”

The boy was found unharmed during the call into the fire department.

Hayes Creek Fire/Rescue members began patrols and notified residents to keep their children and pets indoors.

At about 6 p.m., another report came in from 2 males skidooing by Tee Pee Lakes store. They reported having kicked at the cat to scare it off.

At 6:30 p.m., Rick Law, a Hayes Creek Firefighter and Medical First Responder, heard a loud commotion on his porch. He went out to see what the noise was and found  his dog Lucy being attacked by a cougar.

Law jumped on the cat  disregarding his own safety in order to save his dog.

He managed to get the cougar off of Lucy, but in the meantime, he recieved a puncture wound to his leg and Lucy suffered head and neck lacerations.

Hayes Creek Medical First Responders members attended, providing first aid to both.

When the attack report was called in, Cst. Shiell from the Princeton RCMP and Sgt. Jim Beck, officer in charge of the South Okanagan zone for the Conservation Officer Service, arrived on scene.

They searched for the cat but,  “It had either moved on or possibly found a meal or became prey to a larger preditor,” said Sgt. Beck.

“Cougars killing pets, preying on livestock and significant public safety concern are the cause for conservation officers to be called in, added Sgt. Beck.

Conservation attended the area for the next two days looking for the cat and Sgt. Beck arranged for a houndsman to be on standby. No sightings have been reported since.

Simply Wild Canada offers guidelines to reduce the risk of cougar conflict:

• Hike in groups of two or more and make noise

• Be alert when biking in cougar country

• Carry a walking stick and pepper spray

• Watch for cougar tracks and signs

• If you come across cougar kittens, leave the area immediately

• Feed pets indoors and bring pets in at night

• Place domestic livestock in enclosed shed or barn at night

• Keep children close

Hiking with children:

• Cougars seem to be attracted to children because their behaviour, size is like that of small prey—teach your children what to do if they encounter a cougar.

• Bring a dog with you—they will notice a cougar long before you do

Suggestions if you meet a cougar:

• Do not run! Back away slowly, making yourself larger holding your arms and or any object you can above your head, be as loud as possible to convince the cougar that you are a threat and not prey.

• Always give the cougar a way to escape

• Pick up a child immediately

• If attacked, fight back! Use anything within reach (rocks, sticks, your fists….)

For more tips and information, please visit  http://simplywildcanada.com