Recently there have been reported sightings of cougars in our community.
The cougar, which is a stalk and ambush predator (often attacking from behind) is the largest wild cat native to British Columbia. The adult cougar is a large animal.
The average adult male weighs 53 to 100 kilograms (116 to 220 pounds) and females typically weigh between 29 and 64 kilograms (64 to 141 pounds). Large adult males may measure nine feet in length, including a 30-inch tail.
Cougars are solitary, extremely unpredictable and strong territorial hunters. Resident males don’t allow their territories to overlap, but may share boundaries with resident females. Cougars are secretive and most active around dawn and dusk.
Cougar distribution in British Columbia is governed by the distribution of its major prey species: deer.
A striving, healthy deer population is living not only on the outskirts of Comox, but also in the core of the town. Comox has signs that say “Expect deer on our roads.” Comox, however, is not the only B.C. community experiencing an influx of deer.
The fact that we not only have an abundance of deer living amongst us — the numbers are steadily increasing — means that naturally, their predators — cougars, will follow. Cougars and humans are not a good mix.
Deer are relaxed and “at home” in Comox and surrounding area making them “sitting ducks” for a cougar. Besides attracting cougars, deer eat and destroy farmer’s crops; graze on gardener’s plants, shrubbery and even feud over territory in backyards.
When deer reach high population densities in urban areas, they can also pose a threat to people because they often carry Lyme disease ticks. Deer are also involved in motor vehicle accidents.
Perhaps it is time to take a serious look at culling deer.
How that would be accomplished, is a good question; maybe by trained professional cross bow or compound bow archers/bowmen at close range. They are silent and as long as you have accurate archers, with a backup ready for the second shot, it is humane.
Culling can also be done by professional sharpshooters (not hunters), although certainly not without controversy; however by some, considered to be the most effective and practical way of culling.
Slaughtered deer could be processed, and the meat donated to the food bank.
Another method which is not an easy one and expensive, is to trap, capture and move deer to another area. Fertility control is often mulled over as another possible solution to consider.
However, the idea that learning to live with deer in our midst is an off-handed and simplistic, poorly-thought-out solution. We cannot afford to be oblivious to the fact that our rapidly growing population of deer are attracting cougars into our community for an easy meal.
Unfortunately, there seems to be no consensus on how to best address this problem, nor are there attractive solutions. Deer are beautiful animals — no one can argue that fact.
However, something has to be done about the problem of exploding deer populations in our community before it is too late.
Is it going to take the maiming or the death of a child before action is taken? It is not a matter of “if” it is going to happen, but “when” it is going to happen.
Just as a mother doe and a mother cougar will defend and protect their young, so do we humans need to protect our young.