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Rapid development next door blamed for rural south Island cougar encounters

Protecting bears and cougars primary objective of new petition in Metchosin
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A petition to halt development has been launched on Change.org as a measure to protect farmers and cougars in Metchosin. (Black Press file photo)

Development in neighbouring Langford is being blamed for the loss of natural habitats of cougars in Metchosin, according to a petition on Change.org.

The online campaign, started by Helen Davies, has clocked up 310 signatures since Jan 20, with the goal of adding 500 more.

Davies launched the petition after her dwarf goat was killed by a cougar in a brazen daylight attack, with contractors and a six-year-old child present at the time.

There are no calls for the cougar to be killed or euthanized, as the petition argues the predator was just acting on its instincts.

Davies said in the petition that rapid urbanization is responsible and poor land-use practices have affected farmers in the area.

Having electric fences installed or having guardian animals such as donkeys or certain breeds of dogs can deter wildlife from coming onto a farm, said Rick Dekelver, BC Conservation Officer.

“We would expect and understand that precautions were taken to protect cougars and bears.”

Cougars are animals of opportunity and if they see a source of food, they will likely try and eat it, said Mollie Cameron, Wild Wise president.

“They don’t understand the difference between livestock and deer. They just see food.”

Bree Callaway, a commenter and one of the signatories on the petition, said they’re supporting the campaign because they had seen an increase in both cougars and bears in her area.

She said that she had seen a bear and cougar in the area where dogs walk frequently and that people need to do a better job of protecting wildlife.

Andrea Miller, another commenter and signatory said there had been an increase in bears being shot and killed by conservation officers in View Royal. She mentioned they were being displaced from the Langford side of Thetis Lake and that a study into wildlife and mitigation measures was necessary.

A spokesperson for the BC Conversation Officer Service said that they only track animal-human conflicts and could not say if there had been an increase in sightings or shootings.

READ MORE: ‘We have to co-exist’: Cougar and bear sightings increase on the West Shore



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