Cat owners are urged to keep their furry friends inside after one was killed by a cougar.
Conservation Officer Tanner Beck was called to the area Monday morning and spotted the cougar west of Vernon Secondary School.
“It took off as soon as it saw me,” said Beck of the juvenile predator.
A trap was set, and sure enough the large cat returned and was captured sometime overnight.
The B.C. Conservation Office Service said the cougar’s behaviour was deemed to pose a public safety risk as it was habituated to humans, being very comfortable in the urban environment and targeting pets as prey.
The cougar was put down.
“Animals that pose a threat to public safety are not candidates for relocation,” the COS said.
An East Hill resident caught a photo of the cougar sitting on their back deck, one block from the high school on 23rd Avenue, April 11.
“The cougar appeared very comfortable on the deck of a residential home and was reluctant to leave,” COS said.
Staff and students at the school were placed on a brief lockdown, as a safety precaution.
VSS principal Ken Gatzke said a neighbour called the school to let them know a cougar had been seen near Pottery Road.
“As a precaution, we moved the school into hold and secure (keeping students and staff inside the building),” said Gatzke.
The B.C. Conservation Office informed the school that a hold and secure was not necessary, therefore students and staff were allowed out shortly after 10 a.m. if needed.
“Our students and staff were fantastic during the hold and secure and followed our protocols very well,” Gatzke said.
The cougar, according to Beck, is not believed to be a threat to humans.
“It didn’t show any aggressive behaviour.”
But small animals are at risk, now and any time predators are around.
“I do not recommend letting housecats free range,” said Beck, adding that there are a number of outdoor and/or stray cats in East Hill.
Fall, winter and spring are typical for cougars to be hunting down from the hillsides due to all the deer, quail, raccoons, cats and other prey in the area.
“Best not to let your cats out,” said Beck.
Anyone who sees the cougar can call the RAPP (Report All Poachers and Polluters) line 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP), which the Conservation Office responds to.