A conservation officer had to kill a cougar that had taken to a Summerland resident’s deck to watch over a domestic herd of goats.
“Humans share the Okanagan Valley with all manner of wildlife including predators. Cougars are masters of stealth and are rarely seen by humans,” said conservation officer Bob Hamilton. “Unfortunately, this cougar crossed some behavioural boundaries and had to be dealt with. It was definitely a problem cougar.”
Hamilton responded to the wildlife call on Friday on Simpson Road in Summerland. Homeowner Don Gemmell said he was surprised when he looked out his bedroom window to see the cougar casually sitting right below.
“I have never seen a cougar here in 25
years, but the conservation officer called them ghost cats and I think that is a good explanation. With the colour of the cat and the way they are in general, there is probably more of them around here than we figure. It is just that they blend in so well.”
It was about 8 a.m. Friday when Gemmell heard the coyotes howling, which he found strange because they are nocturnal, and the neighbour’s German shepherd Caesar barking incessantly at the house. Gemmell said he peaked out one side of his blinds and didn’t see anything, so glanced out the other side.
“Whoa there is a cat virtually right at my feet. It is just sitting there like a tabby cat, very comfortable and looking right down at the Caesar,” said Gemmell, who called his neighbour to tell them to take in the dog, fearing the cougar might attack it.
The conservation officer said an examination revealed the adult cougar had been feeding on domestic dogs and cats.
“It was an equivalent of a perch right up on the deck. I think Caeser is the hero of the story. He was trying to tell somebody that the cat was there and he was doing his job,” said Gemmell.
The cougar wasn’t dissuaded by the dog’s presence and didn’t move when the residents tried to shoo it away. Eventually it took off running down the hill, past the goats and slammed into a deer fence. It continued running along the eight-foot-high fence before disappearing near Simpson Road. An hour after the cougar ran off, conservation officer Hamilton arrived. He said he did not expect to find the cougar still on the property because “they are usually nocturnal and very secretive.” After seeing the photos of the cougar lying on the deck, Hamilton said the cat was demonstrating a dangerous character trait of a lack of fear of humans.
Hamilton followed the tracks and located the cougar when it sprang from behind a small bush only a few feet away. He then dispatched the cat with his rifle.