The city of Port Moody is cautioning residents to exercise vigilance and guard against encounters with cougars as deer — their preferred prey — is spending more time in urban areas.
Cougar encounters are not rare in the Tri-Cities. This time last year, one of the big cats was reported to have lunged towards a man and a leashed dog in the 600-block of Falcon Drive in Port Moody.
But they also shouldn’t be feared. Some common-sense precautions can make the difference between a brief encounter and a potentially dangerous attack.
That means keeping dogs on a leash and under control at all times. Other pets, like cats, should be kept indoors. The city also suggests removing bird feeders or shrubs, which could attract racoons or deer to your yard.
When walking on forest trails, it’s best to make noise and remain alert. Should you encounter a cougar, do not run. Instead, pick up your pet or child, and turn and face the animal. Use your jacket or backpack to look as big as possible, and back away slowly while maintaining eye contact and making as much noise as possible, recommend conservation officers.
If you think a cougar is stalking or following you, yell at it and throw objects such as rocks or sticks.
“Let it know that you are not prey,” said conservation officer Marc Plamondon. “You want them to know that if it tries to do anything to you, it is going to get hurt.”
When you’re safe, report any encounters or sightings in an urban area to the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277.