PORT McNEILL—The problem cougar involved in several recent encounters in the town has been destroyed, the Conservation Officer Service announced this week.
The 140-pound cat had been seen stalking a woman along the Rotary Trail last week, in addition to the attack on a dog reported in last week’s Gazette and numerous sightings in the Beach Drive/ Mine Road area.
Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant said that the cougar had proved elusive and difficult to track in previous reports, but he got the chance to work with a fresh trail after the cougar was spotted outside a house, watching children through a basement window.
Even still, it took the officer and hound team a difficult three hours to pin down the cougar, described by Casavant as “a very smart cat.”
Based on photographs taken by residents in other encounters, the officer said he was very confident in identifying the cougar as the problem cat.
In the interest of public safety, the decision was made to remove the cougar.
Despite appearing outwardly healthy, the cat had been involved in a series of stalking incidents in recent weeks.
“Like any animal, there may be problems you don’t see; mental problems or internal problems,” said Casavant. “When we see unnatural behaviour — like pacing kids, that’s not natural behaviour — we tend to err on the side of caution.”
The officer said that this case shows the value of quick notification. “This cat was very smart, very cunning,” he said. “Those calls where we had a half hour, hour, two-hour delay — we needed to be there right away… the faster you call, the faster we can get there.”
Casavant said that he was aware of a second, smaller cat that had been seen in the Nimpkish Heights area. Cougar encounters should be reported to the toll-free Report all Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) hotline at 1-877-952-RAPP (7277).