Spring has brought the animals out in Golden, and conservation officer Alex Desjardins is asking residents to keep their eyes open when on the trails around town.
Multiple cougar sightings on the Rotary trail network near the baseball diamonds and the high school track have been reported in the recent weeks.
“It’s a cougar that is exhibiting normal behaviour in an abnormal area,” said Desjardins. “It’s not exhibiting any threatening behaviours or any behaviours of concern, but we’re definitely monitoring it.”
Authorities aren’t positive of the reason the cougar is hanging around the community, but Desjardins said that possible reasons could include health problems, following a food source (90 per cent of a cougar’s diet is deer), or perhaps a young cougar was pushed away by its mother before it was ready.
“If you see a cougar while you’re out, you should walk away slowly, running could trigger an instinctual response from the cougar to hunt and to go after the prey. Always know where the animal is, back away slowly and don’t turn your back on it. And keep your pets on leash,” said Desjardins. “Then as soon as you’re in a safe place, call the RAPP line (1-877-952-7277). It’s very important that we get reports as soon as they happen so that we can act on it.”
The bears are also out and about for the season, and there have been more reported sightings than last year. Already this year, one bear unfortunately had to be destroyed. And just as with cougars, it is very important to call in any and all bear sightings as soon as they happen.
“The vast majority of the problem comes from habituated bears that have access to an unnatural food source. Once they get into that habit, it’s hard to break,” said Desjardins.
“There’s a common belief that calling the COs means that the bear will be killed, and that can’t be further from the truth. If we’re made aware of it as soon as the bear moves into an area, we can take preventative measures…shoot him with rubber bullets, make him know he’s not welcome, and he’ll move on. If I only learn of a bear in the area a week after he’s moved in, he’ll be anchored there. He knows there’s a food source and it will be extremely difficult to make him move on.”