A Summerland trail user experienced what he described as a “close encounter with a cougar” on a trail in the community.
Dan Robertson described the experience on the Summerland Trail Users Facebook group. The encounter occurred on the evening of Feb. 14 around twilight, while Robertson was trail running in the Test of Humanity area on Cartwright Mountain.
Dave Cox, a conservation officer based in Penticton, said cougar encounters, while rare, can occur in the community. Summerland has a large number of wintering deer, moose and other animals, which also brings their predators to the community.
“Where the deer go, cougars follow,” he said, adding that the Cartwright Mountain area is prime cougar habitat.
He said those using trails in the area are urged to take precautions and preventative measures. These include keeping dogs on their leashes and having bells on the packs or talking with friends while on the trail.
If there is an encounter with a cougar, Cox said the person should try to appear large and should be loud. People with children or pets should pick them up. Those encountering cougars are advised not to turn around and run.
There are signs in the area warning people of the possibility of cougars around the Test of Humanity course, and trail users are encouraged to exercise caution when in the area.
Those who encounter cougars should call the Report All Poachers and Polluters 24-hour line at 1-877-952-7277.
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