One of the great things about living in the North Okanagan is the diverse wildlife that calls it home. Who doesn’t have a favourite memory of spotting a deer grazing in a pasture or a bear rambling up a trail?
However, the fact that people and wildlife live side by side also creates the potential for conflict.
A good example of that is Monday’s shooting of a cougar in Lumby. The big cat had killed an alpaca, two sheep and a llama.
Now obviously the destruction of a wild creature is unfortunate, but the reality is that relocation isn’t effective for a number of reasons and cougars generally continue to prey on livestock and pets once they have been moved. It should also be pointed out that the cougar was near an elementary school and children can be vulnerable to attacks.
Now cougars can’t change their habits. They are doing exactly what they do — looking for food.
So the onus to reduce conflicts rests completely with residents, and particularly those in rural areas or those where urban interface exists.
There are a number of precautionary steps that can be taken, including bringing pet food inside as it lures animals that can be prey for cougars.
Don’t allow pets to roam outside during dusk, dawn and at night. Bring them inside or secure them in a kennel with a secure top.
Add motion detector lights to your yard to deter cougars who prefer to move about undetected.
And for farmers, provide sturdy, secure covered shelters to protect hobby livestock at night.
Conservation officers strongly dislike having to destroy cougars, or any wildlife, but their first priority is public safety.
Do your part to ensure people and wild animals can live next to each other in peace.