Conservation officers are warning the public to keep their pets leashed after a cougar grabbed a small dog in its jaws outside a Coquitlam man’s home, running off with the canine in its mouth before dropping it a short distance away.
The dog owner is said to have chased and scared off the cougar, prompting it to drop the dog, according to a post on the BC Conservation Officer Service’s Facebook page.
“The dog is receiving veterinary treatment for bite wounds on its body but is expected to recover,” wrote the BCCOS in its post.
The incident, which happened Tuesday night, occurred as the Coquitlam resident was outside his home on Nash Drive with three small unleashed dogs. The area backs onto Scott Creek, a forested greenbelt frequented by wildlife.
BCCOS officers together with the city of Coquitlam have placed signage in the area and continue to monitor the situation, they said.
It’s not uncommon for cougars to travel alongside creeks and rivers, according to acting Sgt. Alicia Stark, pointing to a recent case of a family of four cougars which slipped past a Port Moody man’s home last week — but not before they were captured on a trail cam.
In a call with the Tri-City News Wednesday, acting Sgt. Stark said the latest incident in Coquitlam is not thought to have involved the same cougar involved in a similar attack at Buntzen Lake trail Sunday.
"It's just hunting," she said. "We have had other reports of this cougar and it gets very scared when it sees people."
On Sunday, a hiker’s unleashed dog was attacked in a similar fashion before the owners were able to scare the cat away.
“Aggressive behaviour for us is going up to someone’s door in broad daylight,” said acting Sgt. Stark, adding the attacks against small animals is the natural behaviour of the big cats.
The Buntzen Lake cougar has not been sighted since and the trail remains open.
WHAT I DO IF I SEE A COUGAR?
The BCCOS notes that cougar sightings are common across the Lower Mainland, especially in greenbelt areas found in many neighbourhoods across the Tri-Cities.
“If you spot a cougar near your home, it is most likely passing through the neighbourhood and will move on,” wrote the BCCOS.
Your best course of action is to bring children and pets inside, as it’s not unusual for cougars to target small dogs, or cats, as prey.
Also avoid leaving pet food and birdseed outside as this will attract raccoons and squirrels, which in turn may draw a cougar near your home to hunt.
Bringing pets indoors or keeping dogs leashed while outside can help prevent cougar conflicts. Avoid placing pet food or bird seed outside. This attracts prey species such as raccoons and squirrels, which may cause a cougar to hunt these animals near your home.
More tips from the B.C. government on how to live with cougars can be found here.
Alternatively, Mossom Creek Hatchery and Education Centre offers talks from informed experts and can be accessed at mossomcreek.org/cougars-in-our-backyard/