A cougar sighting reported on the KVR trail has the City of Penticton urging users of the area to take extra precautions.
According to Tina Lee, communications officer for the City of Penticton, a sighting was reported to the the parks department on Aug. 11. Extra caution is recommended on the trail near McCulloch Trestle and Carder Road. There was no report of aggression by the animal.
Signage has been posted at key entry points on the trail to warn users of the area. The city is also reminding residents to never feed or approach wildlife, keep your dog on a leash and never hike alone.
According to WildSafeBC, attacks by cougars are rare but can be fatal, especially if young children are involved. Cougars in conflict are usually young cougars that have not yet learned how to hunt efficiently and are looking for an easy target, or are older cougars that can no longer hunt efficiently in the wilds. They hunt at any time of day and night through all seasons, but they are most active during the period from dusk until dawn.
If you encounter a cougar, keep calm. Make yourself look as large as possible and back away slowly, keeping the cougar in view, and allowing a clear exit for the cougar. Pick up children and small pets immediately. Never run or turn your back- sudden movements may provoke an attack.
If you notice that a cougar that is watching you, maintain eye contact with the cougar and speak to it in a loud firm voice. Reinforce the fact that you are a human and not an easy target. Back out of the area and seek assistance or shelter.
If a cougar shows aggression, or begins following you, respond aggressively in all cases as cougars see you as a meal: keep eye contact, yell and make loud noises, and show your teeth. Pick up nearby sticks, rocks, or whatever you have at hand to quickly to use as a weapon if necessary- crouch down as little as possible when picking things up off the ground.
Any sightings or conflicts with wildlife should be reported to the WildSafeBC conservation officer service reporting line at 1-877-952-7277.