Churchill has polar bears, Victoria has cougars

cougar (aka puma/mountain lion) was captured in downtown Victoria yesterday (my home town), with all the drama given a polar bear attack. No polar bear alert program here, just cougar tracking hounds on standby and officers with guns and tranquilizer darts.

The Globe and Mail has video here.

Victoria cougar location Oct 5 2015

Details and quotes below. CBC story was the only one to include a map, which I have put into polar bear perspective.

From the Victoria Times-Colonist 5 October 2015:

“A cougar got a quick trip back to the woods after searchers tracked it Monday to a James Bay townhouse complex on Michigan Street and tranquillized it.

In a dramatic moment during the search, the cougar took a big leap and soared past three police officers who had been tracking it with dogs.

The animal, a male about 18 months old and weighing around 80 pounds, was shot twice with a tranquillizer gun and carefully placed in a barrel for transport about 10 a.m.

Conservation officer Peter Pauwels said the cougar was relocated “as far away from human civilization as I can get on southern Vancouver Island”: in the Fleet River area, between Port Renfrew and Mesachie Lake.

“It looks in pretty good condition, a little on the thin side but not too bad.”

Later on in the article, some history:

“A cougar was also found in James Bay in 1998, when one walked into Scott Plastics through an open door and was later tranquillized.

In 1989, a cougar jumped through a window into a James Bay basement suite while the resident was home, prompting her to hide in the closet. Animal control officers arrived and the cougar had to be shot.

Downtown Victoria had an incident in 1992 when a cougar made its way into the parkade at the Empress Hotel. It ended up being tranquillized.” [my bold]

The 1989 incident occurred a few blocks from where my mother was living at the time.

Global and Mail story had further details:

“It was the perfect Hollywood ending to a guns-drawn pursuit of a cougar bounding across backyards, over fences and through garages in a downtown Victoria neighbourhood steps from British Columbia’s legislature.

Pauwels downplayed the intensity of the hunt and the potential danger that the wild, cornered cat posed to the neighbourhood, which includes an elementary school and seniors’ facilities.

The pursuit was anything but quiet as police sirens wailed, tracking dogs howled and crows screeched from above.

Two Layser panting hounds named Jim and Phoebe, their noses to the ground, had the cat’s scent and were just steps behind the cougar.

They followed it across a parking lot and into a yard on Michigan Street, but the cat spun around, leapt about two metres into the air and ran past a group of reporters and photographers who were part of the chase.

A police officer screamed, “Look out,” as the cougar charged out of a parking lot.

A resident named Tim Van Alstine said he planned to take a photo of the large cougar but when he saw it run out into the street, he realized he was in danger.

“When I saw the size of the cat, I said, ‘It’s time to get out, like get away quick,’ and I did,” he said. “I just forgot the picture. I just took off. I started running backwards. Big. Big. Much bigger than anticipated.”

Opposition New Democrat MLA Carole James, who represents the Victoria-Beacon Hill riding where the cougar was roaming, said her husband took photos of the animal running through their backyard.

Pauwels said he suspects the cougar has been in the Victoria area for a about a week, based on recent reports of cougar sightings in nearby Oak Bay.

He said cougars sometimes leave the wilderness areas that surround Victoria and end up lost in the urban zone, unable to find their way out.”

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