July 25th, 2024

Cougar sightings have officials urging caution

By Justin Sibbet - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on June 26, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDjsibbet@lethbridgeherald.com

Many felines are welcome in our homes, but certain species are not quite as cuddly, loveable or tameable.

Over the past few weeks, Alberta Fish and Wildlife Enforcement have received several reports of cougar sightings in Lethbridge, with the most recent happening late last week. In an email statement to the Herald, Fish and Wildlife Enforcement says one of the sightings involved more than just a glimpse of the big cat.

“On Friday, June 21, at approximately 5 p.m., Alberta Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Services (FWES) received a report of a cougar in Indian Battle Park, who jumped from a tree and charged a dog and its owners. Lethbridge Police Service and Fish and Wildlife officers arrived on site, but were unable to locate the cougar”

FWES confirms this is not the only sighting this month that has been legitimate.

“This is the third confirmed cougar sighting in Lethbridge in June that has been reported to FWES.”

Furthermore, FWES says there are resources to use if you believe you have spotted a cougar.

“Officers are currently monitoring the situation and remind the public that cougar sightings in a residential area can be reported to 1-800-642-3800.”

While it is unlikely you will bump into a cougar, FWES says there are ways to stay safe in the event of a cougar crossing paths with you.

“Cougar sightings are rare, as these animals are elusive and generally not found within heavily populated areas. However, it is important to know what precautions to take and what to do if you encounter a cougar. FWES recommends traveling in groups and carrying some form of protection, such as bear spray.”

If you come across a cougar, FWES says you should stay close to your group and leave the area as soon as possible.

“If you see a cougar in the distance, do not run or turn your back. If the cougar appears to be unaware of your presence, gather children and pets in close, slowly and cautiously back away and leave the area.”

Lethbridge Police Service confirmed all three sightings have been in either Indian Battle Park in the river valley or the Indian Battle Heights community.

For more information on staying safe from a cougar attack, please go to https://www.alberta.ca/cougars.aspx

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I’m concerned that all we get from the police and wildlife officers is “we can’t locate this cougar and be safe out there”. This is an apex predator drawn into our community by those pesky deer and their fawns which is another safety concern. A cougar who is hungry will take down ur pet or, heaven forbid, a human. We cannot wait for this to happen then start pointing fingers at the people that are responsible for protecting us. Bring in an experienced cougar hunter with their dogs and remove the threat. If this cannot be done safely to relocate the cougar then kill it. I know the latter is harse but let’s not twiddle our fingers until this predator attacks a pet or a citizen or both. George



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