A case of the cat coming back has left a Bragg Creek, Alta., dog and owner wary of the potential for another cougar attack.
Snowa, a Great Pyrenees, was on the back deck of her home west of Calgary when a cougar came and attacked her, resulting in multiple puncture wounds and scratches.
People inside the home scared the cat away by hitting it with a broom.
Two weeks later, a cougar jumped on Snowa as she and her owner exited their home. Her owner emptied a can of bear spray into the cougar’s face to shake it off.
The pair of attacks on the same pet is just one of three known attacks on dogs in the area recently.
Local conservation group Bragg Creek Wild said it’s received multiple recent reports of cougar sightings and interactions.
“There has been an increased number of encounters between pets, people and cougars lately, which is unusual somewhat,” Renee Delorme, Bragg Creek Wild president, said.
Cougars usually avoid contact with humans, she said.
“But in this case, we have these encounters happening right now. We’re not sure if it’s one or more cougars, but we really advise people to be mindful of how to live in cougar country.”
Cougars are often attracted by garbage that’s not properly secured, or by pet food left outside. Feeding wildlife or leaving salt licks out for deer can also attract cougars.
Pets left unattended can also be seen as a ready source of food for the cats.
“And so you want to be keeping your pet safe, either indoors or when they’re outside on a leash or in a safe enclosure that cougars cannot break down,” Delorme said.
Bragg Creek Coun. Kevin Hanson said he was aware of recent cougar sightings in and around Bragg Creek, and the increase in concern from residents.
“Given its location, Bragg Creek is familiar with a variety of wild animals visiting our Hamlet, including cougars. Because of wildlife corridors, cougars are commonly sighted in Rocky View County as far east as Elbow Valley on Highway 8,” Hanson said in a statement.
“Rocky View County and Bragg Creek Wild continue to collaborate and work together in supporting a safe co-existence for humans and wildlife in the area. Some of these initiatives include animal-proof garbage bins, efforts to reduce wildlife attractants and options for road safety.”
Delorme said Bragg Creek Wild doesn’t know whether Snowa faced two different cougars or the same one, but suspects it’s the same one. Fish and Wildlife officials have visited the area a couple of times following cougar complaints, but came up empty handed.
She also said exact data on area wildlife is a bit fuzzy right now.
“We do not know much about the wildlife population in our area. And as the number of developments, visitors and human activities increase in this area, we do not know how they will intersect with the wildlife corridors, pathways, and habits,” Delorme said.
“And once we know that, we will know where the pressure points are and how to reduce those conflicts, either through garbage bylaws or development designs.”
Delorme and the province recommends if people are walking in and around Bragg Creek carry a walking stick and bear spray.
An informational pamphlet from the province also has a number of tips on how to respond to a cougar encounter.
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