The policy of conservation officerso in the area of Penticton1, British Columbia, Canada, is to shoot dead a cougar (even a young one2) if it mauls someone’s dog and kills a cat.
Conservation officers do this because it indicates a pattern of taking domestic pets instead of sticking to a ‘natural diet of deer and smaller wildlife’. So said Conservation officer Clayton DeBruin.
Well, although I understand the argument, when you analyse it, it does not stack up very well.
We knew that we were dealing with a cat (cougar) that had a pattern of taking domestic pets instead of sticking to its natural diet of deer and smaller wildlife… – Conservation Officer
Firstly, the reason why a subadult mountain lion attacked and dog and killed a cat is because to the puma pets are natural prey. For deBruin to say they are not natural prey is entirely incorrect.
The reason why pets are natural prey to some pumas is because people build homes on the puma’s territory. People are at fault. But of course we blame and punish the puma.
Secondly, the policy is flawed because over the very long term, as the Canadian human population grows, it will become ever more likely that there will be this conflict between pumas and people. The only result under this conservation3 policy will be more puma shoot dead.
So the policy has to change. There is always relocation of mountain lions. Some say it does not work but I know that some authorities do it. Isn’t it too easy and lazy to shoot a beautiful puma who is behaving entirely naturally because the cat has wandered into a human settlement and become habituated to humans? Isn’t there a better solution?
Can’t developers be banned from building on areas where the puma is known to live? If there is a clash between wild cat and people, relocate the cat. Do something more humane and more respectful of wildlife.
The dog was off a leash. Perhaps all dogs should be on a leash when outside in areas where pumas are known to live. And if people let their cat go outside in an area where it is known there are pumas, they should take the consequences. Surely the responsibility is on people to behave in a way which protects wildlife?
In a place like Canada where there is abundant wildlife, there needs to be a more sympathetic and sophisticated attitude to wildlife conservation. I sense a rather crude approach to it. Shooting a puma must be the absolute last resort. And I feel that conservation officers can be trigger happy. They have a rifle in their pick up truck and they have to use it sometime, somewhere.
1: Penticton is about 100 kilometers north of the US state of Washington.
2: Young cougars are inexperienced and less dangerous than adult. In fact they are hardly a danger at all to people.
3: What is being preserved? This is hardly a conservation policy.
The report comes rom BC local news.
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