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Cougars shot after wandering onto property

Jun 02 2012

When Susan Scharf saw a young cougar eyeing Halo, her ragdoll cat, six metres from her front porch, she grabbed the nearest weapon - a broom and dustpan.

"I didn't have a gun, so I whacked the broom and dustpan against the house so hard that I broke it," said Scharf, owner of Roche Cove Llamas Bed and Breakfast on Gillespie Road in Sooke.

But the cougar ignored her, so Scharf grabbed Halo and ran for the house where she phoned neighbours, who called conservation officers.

Then she looked outside and saw two cougars on the property.

"I don't think I will ever go outside again. It was so scary," she said.

The drama ended with the deaths of two cougars, which may have been suffering from distemper.

"Both cougars were in poor condition and their carcasses will be tested for disease," said Environment Ministry spokesman Suntanu Dalal.

Scharf said conservation officer Rick Dekelver assured her the animals would be shot only if they attacked or were sick.

By that time, one of the cougars, which did not seem to be able to use its back end, had flopped by some bushes and threatened to pounce.

"It had no fear of people and it was sick and hungry. It was a mercy killing," Scharf said.

The second cougar disappeared into an area next to Roche Cove Regional Park and a cougar hunter with three dogs was called in to track it. The animal was then shot.

Scharf's husband, Garry, arrived home to find Dekelver, the cougar hunter, three dogs and a dead cougar stuck in an almost inaccessible area. Garry ferried them out by canoe, which took three trips.

Meanwhile, school staff at Cinnabar Valley Elementary School in Nanaimo are trying to calm the fears of students and parents after a series of reported cougar sightings around the school.

No cougar has yet been found.

jlavoie@timescolonist.com

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