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Risk concerns prompted Monday's cougar shooting in Port Moody

A cougar that wouldn
A cougar that wouldn't leave a tree in a Port Moody backyard was shot by police Monday.
— image credit: PMPD PHOTO

A cougar that was shot by a Port Moody police officer this week was showing uncharacteristic behaviour and posed a threat because it was moving into neighbourhoods instead of away from humans, as would normally be expected.

The animal, a nearly 200 lb. male, had taken up a perch in a hemlock tree in the 100-block of April Road and residents were told to stay indoors while police dealt with the animal.

PMPD spokesperson Const. Luke van Winkle said conservation officers were consulted but couldn't attend so police had to deal with the animal, which had been sighted several times earlier that day.

"In conversation with conservation, we deemed the risk to the community that it was great enough that we would just have to destroy the animal," van Winkel said.

Reports earlier in the day suggested the animal had been moving steadily east from the green belts around the old Ioco town site towards denser residential neighbourhoods and trails frequented by hikers and dog walkers, he said.

Normally, cougars shy away from humans, although they have been known to display a harmless curiosity, according to a Ministry of Environment website.

But van Winkel said police didn't want to take any chances when the cougar established itself in a backyard tree and didn't seem to want to move.

"It's a concern you have a 200 lb. mountain lion that's in a residential area."

For residents, the sight of the animal was a wondrous example of nature on their doorstep, and some were disappointed when it was killed.

"He was no threat. He didn't seem to me to be aggressive," said Reiner Specht, who lives two doors from the house where the cougar was shot.

Specht acknowledged that a cougar can be dangerous but said he would have preferred that the animal was tranquilized and relocated.

For well-known environmentalist Ruth Foster, who lives in Belcarra but was in the area to visit Specht on business related to the rebuilding of Mossom Creek Hatchery, said she, too, was disappointed that the animal was shot.

"They were hopeful, and I believe other people were, too, that the police would just wait and the cougar would depart on its own," Foster said.

Foster said a cougar has also been sighted in Belcarra and she wondered if the one killed on April Road was the same animal. She speculated that the large number of deer in the area might have attracted the cougar.

dstrandberg@tricitynews.com

 

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