West Bench resident Phil Freeman started the New Year with a shock.
A large cougar walked past his front window and sauntered around his front yard around 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 1.
He lives around the area of West Bench Drive and Hyslop. Freeman managed to snap several pictures of the big cat and post them on Facebook.
Cougar sightings in the West Bench area have been quite common this year but not many people have managed to get such a close up photo like that.
For cougar sightings in residential areas, the Conservation Officer Services and the B.C. government advise the following:
• Remain calm… Keep away from the cougar and tell others to do the same. Bring children and pets inside until the cougar has left.
• Feed pets indoors or, if fed outdoors, bring in any uneaten food as the smell of pet food may attract cougars in addition to the pets (potential prey) themselves.
• Keep your pets indoors, especially at night. Cats and small dogs that are left to free-range can become easy targets. Light walkways and remove any heavy vegetation or landscaping near the house.
• Store garbage in cans with tight-fitting lids so odours do not attract small mammals. Avoid feeding wildlife or landscaping with shrubs and plants that deer prefer to eat.
• Phone the COS Call Centre, 1-877-952-7277, if you suspect that a cougar is hanging around in a residential neighbourhood or killing pets. If the cougar becomes threatening or aggressive towards people, phone the call centre.
• Determine if the cougar has been attracted to the location or is in the locale as a result of poorly managed attractants (pets, backyard chickens, etc.) being present.