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Destroyed cougar attempted to enter a home, met human confrontation with aggression — 30 Comments

  1. I thought about this and support the actions of the RCMP entirely.

    The authorities shot and killed a wild cougar in my area yesterday. For those not familiar with what a cougar is, picture a massive cat of exceptional predatory skill and intuition. They can jump 20ft horizontally, and run much faster than the fastest human. Basically a lion, but smaller. (Which is why they’re also called mountain lions). They are generally never seen near populated areas, and if they are it’s argued that they are habituated to human food and are not afraid of humans. So spotting one is argued to be problematic because the animal may (and sometimes do) attack a human, usually pets or children.

    At any rate, there is a theme on the message boards about how it is so categorically wrong to have killed this animal. The argument underlying this rationale is:

    “It’s so unfair that we take their habitat and then kill them when they come near us. If you see a cougar don’t call the authorities, they’ll just kill them! Leave the cougars alone!”

    My response:

    1: Please provide a well reasoned argument that tells where humans should live and where cougars should live. If we are in the cougar’s territory, then we’ll have to tell the people of London, England that they’ll have to pack up and move because at one time there were animals living there and it’s unfair that we’ve displaced and killed them. A slug used to live where the foundation of your house was built, but you’re not railing about the injustice of displacing said slug.

    Even if we tried to coexist with these animals, we could never trust them because of the possibility of attack. You can’t reason with a cougar. So the argument for unjust encroached boundaries doesn’t hold water. If we could trust cougars to leave us alone, then we could perhaps leave them alone. But we cannot trust them, that’s the point. Next…

    2: It isn’t as if we kill cougars for fun. We kill them because they pose a risk to humans. No one in this situation wants to kill anything. But the commentators who think otherwise have stated in many places that (a) cougars should hold the same moral status as a human, and that (b) killing a cougar is then akin to killing a human. So if you had a choice to save a child or a cougar, which would you save – put the cougar on one track and the child on the other in the famous trolley dilemma, which would you choose to save? These people tend to think that a child is of equal or lesser value than a cougar. They probably haven’t sorted out the ramifications of this kind of thinking, but I’ll give one example: A cougar kills your 4 year old when we knew for weeks this cougar was in the area stalking humans. If you could accept the attitude to ‘leave the cougar alone’ after your child was savaged, maimed or killed, then you failed to protect your child from harm and have a very bizarre and unethical hierarchy of priorities. To be frank, I wouldn’t want to be your child or live in a place that celebrated these kinds of values.

    They also argue that we ought not kill these cougars because they keep the deer population at bay. Think about that; they offer the cougar a moral status akin to a human, but not to a deer. Cougars need to eat deer to survive, but we should just let them savage deer as this is ‘natural’ and typical ‘wild’ behaviour. But according to their logic, shouldn’t humans protect deer from cougars if cougars present a threat to deer? Why award such exceptional treatment to one animal despite the others? Why should a deer not have the same moral status as a cougar or human according to the ‘pro-life’ of cougars position? They’ll have to sort that out. I’ll wait for a compelling answer.

    And being shunned for calling the authorities is a special kind of nonsense. Look at it this way: say a tiger escaped from the zoo and was notably pissed off, should we just accept that this massive predatory animal is just to be left alone? Or should you call the people who can ensure that no one is attacked by this animal? Now a tiger from a zoo is different than a wild cougar, but the argument remains: If you do not do something to ensure safety such as call it in and someone gets savaged by this animal, you can be thanked for putting the life of one wild animal above the safety of human beings. These same people would certainly call in the authorities if they saw a man with a gun walking around, and the potential that the authorities would shoot such a man are about the same odds as a cougar. So why call in the man but not the cougar? They’ll have to sort this out. I’ll wait for a compelling answer.

    No one wants to kill a cougar (well some people might for other reasons, but I’m not defending them), but if these animals become accustomed to humans and demonstrate no fear, then we must act before such an animal attacks. This is demonstrative of a prudential principle, and I think that while it is unfortunate that this animal was killed, that it was the right thing to do as the other option of refusing to recognize the danger and act appropriately seems vastly more unethical than electing to kill this animal given the circumstances described in this article.

    • Humanity can rationalize anything. By your logic envitable human settlement of wildlands equals extermination of any other creatures deemed a “nuisance”, there hasn’t been a fatal cougar attack since the 80″s, while thousands of Cougars have been exterminated since then. Outside of populated areas logging corporations mainly owned by China have decimated the Islands forests replacing them with tree plantations where the canopy is so thick nothing grows on the forest floor, the deer are forced to leave the tree plantations in search of food and the cougars are forced to follow. Current studies show that while the cougar population is plummeting, sightings are increasing as their natural habitats are being destroyed. There isn’t a simple solution to this problem but it’s wrong to simplify the problem by inadvertently stating that the only solution is to exterminate them, BC is one of the very last places in all of North America where healthy cougar populations still exist. I would like to think that in the 21st century we have the ability to not completely decimate them as we have in the past. Though It is highly likely they will be exterminated anyways, just another cost of the wheels of progress.

    • I don’t usually bother, but since you took the time:

      1: Frances Frost, January 2, 2001. This Canmore, Alberta resident was killed by a cougar while skiing on Cascade Fire Road just north of Banff National Park in Alberta. So your claim of no fatal attacks since the 1980s is untenable. But it doesn’t matter anyway – one fatal attack or the potential for it should suffice. Even a mauling is too much.

      2: Humanity can’t rationalize anything. It can only rationalize what can be logically presented. I can’t logically rationalize a claim that for instance “all bowling balls should hold a moral superiority over newborn babies.” Or perhaps I could, but it wouldn’t be very convincing, and being convincing or making sense is what matters.

      3: You’re guilty of various straw man fallacies. The first is found in “By your logic inevitable human settlement of wild lands equals extermination of any other creatures deemed a “nuisance” (I’ll forgive the spelling/grammatical mistakes). I never said this in any case and in any form. Read what I argued slowly and for comprehension.

      4: I also didn’t argue that we ought to ‘exterminate them’. Again, read for comprehension. The hint is in the final paragraph that I wrote.

      We’re not at odds if I read you correctly, but you seem to think we are.

      • Posted: Sep 21, 2015

        Whitehorse cougar evidence excites Yukon biologist
        ‘Bruce’ the pit bull survives cougar attack
        Cougar trapped, killed in Nanaimo
        Cougar attacks 18-month-old
        A father on Vancouver Island acted quickly to save his toddler daughter after a cougar infiltrated the family’s backyard, jumped the child from behind and even had her head in its mouth.

        Travis Nielsen was relaxing with his wife Anna and daughters Bree, 2, and Mya, 4, on Monday afternoon in the remote community of Tahsis, B.C., when the cougar suddenly pounced on Bree.

        He said Bree was attacked so quickly that he can barely remember what happened.

        “It came up behind her, jumped on her back and had her head in its mouth,” he said. “All I remember is seeing its eyes and not really comprehending what it was that grabbed her.”

        “I grabbed her with one hand by the shirt and I struck,” he said.

        “At that point, he let her go and I grabbed my daughter and pushed her in behind me, and it was still here and I was yelling, ‘Get out of here!’ and at that point it ran off.”

        Nielsen said the cougar fled and climbed into a nearby tree.

        The toddler was taken to a local clinic, and was treated and released with only minor injuries.

        Conservation officer Sgt. Ben York said a cougar was located at the scene and killed by officers.

        “Conservation officers will be conducting their forensic investigation of the scene as well as searching the surrounding area with trained hounds in order to ensure there are no other cougars,” said York.

        Nielsen said the family is in shock, but also grateful and relieved no one was seriously hurt.

        “A little bit shaken up. We’re just very happy she’s OK,” he said

  2. Funny how the homeowners original post stated that it simply pressed it’s nose to their patio doors in the post on Sooke Social last night, I screen shot the entire thing last night before it was deleted….

    • Funny how the cougar probably didn’t realize the cops had been called, knew what a cop was or thought he was doing anything wrong. Humans always forget that wild animals don’t think like humans – they think like wild animals.

    • It proved that it wasn’t going to be shy towards humans. The lady who called went with her gut and I think it was the right choice. I have had them on my property but under different circumstances so I didn’t feel the need to call. I have kids and dogs and am not from the city by any means either. I trust that in this incident it was the right choice. Am I sad for the animal? Of course! But attacking someone else and an officer for a choice they made when only they were there to gauge the threat seems a little too pitchforky

    • It never attacked anyone. It pushed it’s nose up against a glass door.

      As for its choice, if we knew cougar language the cop could have communicated to the cougar that he had a gun and to leave and the cougar probably would have. Unfortunately Google doesn’t yet have an animal translator so telling the cougar it made a bad choice is kind if hard. It probably realized he made a mistake while he was lying there dying.

    • What an amusingly sarcastic reply. Nice.

      An apex predator like a cougar has extraordinary senses, so while I’m no expert I have to assume it likey was aware that it was in very close proximity to a species not normally on its menu and at a house so not normally it’s natural hunting grounds. Healthy behavior would be to avoid confrontation with humans, I got taught that in school even. This one however did not avoid, first by putting it’s nose or attempting to enter the home (whichever it may be) & then hanging around long enough for an officer to arrive and then on top of that not fleeing but rather squaring off when the officer attempted to get it to leave.
      So whether it was initially curiosity or predatory or in the end cornered behavior it was still a situation where I believe the persons involved made tough decisions and I can’t fault them for doing so. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt that they did what they felt was necessary because believe it or not, it’s ok for people to care and look out for other people and still love and respect wildlife.

  3. They are going to say whatever they want to avoid any kind of repercussion from the public. Seriously, I have found that you really can’t believe everything that anyone says…no matter “who” they are..!!!

  4. Ya cuz cops have never fired their guns when they shouldn’t have but always seem to back it up with some story of how it was necessary so I just always believe their take

  5. The key message today is how do we learn to co exist with Wildlife…. Can we prevent conflicts with Wildlife in our community .?
    The message the same “manage Attractants” These attractionants invite wild animals like Cougars into our community. Once they have become habituated (no longer fear or try to avoid humans) and human food conditioned they will strive to continue that behavior even after relocation. Seeking out easy food sources is the motivating factor. If the cougar had no attractants within a residential community it would still be enjoying life in the wild.

    Keep wild life wild and our community Safe.

    Cougars are wide ranging animals and may show up in urban settings from time to time. If they are passing through it is important they do not find prey items that may encourage them to stay.

    • Feed pets indoors, or if fed outdoors, bring in any uneaten food as the smell of pet food may attract cougars in addition to the pets (potential prey) themselves.

    • Keep your pets indoors, especially at night. Cats and small dogs that are left to free-range can become easy prey targets.
    Pets
    Pets left outdoors to roam freely are easy prey for cougars, especially very young or old cougars who may not hunt efficiently in the wild and are looking for easy targets. The continued disappearance of cats and dogs in a neighbourhood can be an indication of a cougar in the area. Keep your outdoor pets behind fencing, and bring them in at nighttime. Don’t feed pets outdoors, and if you must, make sure to clean up any waste or crumbs. Pet food is a large attractant for small mammals such as raccoons and squirrels, which are prey for cougars.

    • Bird feeders can attract cougars. If the ground below the feeder is not kept clear, seeds can accumulate, attracting rodents and, in turn, attracting cougars that feed on the rodents and other animals such as deer that are brought in by the bird feed.

    • If you keep chickens or small livestock use a properly installed and maintained electric fence. Store all your feed in a secure location and ensure feeding areas are clean and free of attractants (again, the feed attracts rodents and the rodents, in turn, can attract other predators and cougars).

    • Never feed deer or other possible prey species for cougars. While deer may be pleasant to watch, they can attract large predators into residential neighbourhoods. As well, urban deer present their own set of problems to you and your neighbours.

  6. Understanding of how wildlife can shift from being something nice to see or experience to something that is a real threat to human safety and/or property is not always easy. Hindsight usually lets us see when the wildlife became a problem but by then it is often too late. Your best strategy is to think about what the long term outcomes could be from your present interactions with wildlife.
    Where and how we “LIVE” is one of the greatest opportunities and challenges for reducing human-wildlife conflict. Our homes and yards are where we spend the bulk of our time and it is here that we are most protective of ‘our’ space. It is also where we create so many attractants and opportunities for wildlife to get into conflict with us.

  7. Dear PJR Allen – I wish that some of the people that wrote the posts that followed yours – could place themselves in a situation where their child, grandchild, neighbour child or whom ever (adult or child or family pet alike) was the target of a predatory animal showing no fear of humans. What was done – had to be done and your explanation was spot on. I listened to the ‘event’ as it was happening – the RCMP did not do what had to be done with a cavalier attitude. Simply – it had to be done.

  8. While I agree with the RCMP’s dispatch of this fearless lion, I am a feline animal lover and know how destructive these playful predators can be. A cougar is a wild animal and is not a law abiding citizen as they are wild and know only the law of the jungle, just try and train your domesticated cat not to murder birds. In the the future I propose a different strategy in defence of humans and our wild forest cats, it is simply to tranquillize and cage rather than relocate or kill.
    The caged cat is worth more, A cougar sanctuary in Sooke area would attract tourist and island dollars and further our understanding of this cunning cat.

  9. If it is trying to enter a house the thing should be shot. You think animals like that would think twice about killing a human? No. So why should we care about killing it? Espescially to prevent a human from getting hurt or killed.

  10. A cougar was shot and the nutters are blaming the home owner? Then they blame the officer?
    What’s wrong with these people?

  11. I have to agree w/previous commenters that this new article seems to contain info which is at odds with the first article, i.e. that the cougar was by the glass door, but now it tried to get into the house. I hope the latter version isn’t an updated one created to justify killing the cougar. I’d like to know which version is more truthful. That bothers me almost as much as the cougar having to be killed.

  12. REPORT an FRUIT TREE .. Post it Pass it on
    There are many fruit trees in Our Community that need picking. Sometimes, we can own a apple tree but are unable to pick the fruit or we just don’t want the fruit.
    Report a fruit tree and make the fruit available to others, a local fruit exchange program or food bank.
    Many people want the fruit and are willing to come and pick it. Post it so people can contact you via messenger and pick your fruit
    Let’s all contribute and report a Tree and Be Bear Wise. You too can help to keep our wildlife !

    -fruit bearing trees begin to ripen, and become the next food choice for hungry bears. Fruit attracts bears to our backyards, increases potential interaction, bear habituation, and resulting human/wildlife conflict
    We Can Prevent Conflict
    Go for it post the fruit tree comments on the sites. Let’s try and get people going on this. Everyone postes comments when a cougar was shot .. Let’s see if we can get them going on preventing conflicts with Wild life