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Cougar and bear sightings in Langley

Walnut Grove resident Bayley Schmidt, 13, took this picture of a bear wandering through her neighbourhood on Friday, August 12, 2011. - Submitted
Walnut Grove resident Bayley Schmidt, 13, took this picture of a bear wandering through her neighbourhood on Friday, August 12, 2011.
— image credit: Submitted

Cougars and bears have been spotted in Langley, and police are urging the public to use caution.

Over the Victoria Day long weekend, Langley RCMP received a report of a cougar sighting in Williams Park and a bear sighting in north Langley.

Both sightings took place on Saturday, May 18, with the bear seen in the West Langley Park area, at 95A Avenue and 208 Street.

One person said he saw the bear again on Monday, May 20 near the Walnut Grove skate park. The local conservation officer was out as well and has several helpful tips for people to stay safe around wildlife.

Cougar sightings in Langley are very rare, but bears are a common sight, often making their way through the ravines in Walnut Grove, even visiting the area of the Costco store a few years ago.

The following safety tips about cougars, bears and coyotes are from the Conservation Office Service:

Many of the helpful tips related to cougars are similar to those for coyotes.  To avoid conflicts with coyotes, you should:

-  Keep pets indoors or in secure kennels at night for safety;

-  Bring farm animals into enclosed sheds or barns at night, especially during calving or lambing seasons;

-  Do not leave pet food or food scraps outside;

-  When children are playing outdoors, closely supervise them;

-  Light walkways around your home and remove any heavy vegetation or landscaping near the house;

-  Avoid feeding or attracting deer;

– Hike in small groups and make enough noise to prevent surprising a cougar;

and

– Keep small children close to the group, preferably in plain sight just ahead of you.

If you see a cougar, you should:

–  Stop, stand tall and don’t run.  Pick up small children.  Remember, a cougar’s instinct is to chase'

– Face the cougar, talk to it firmly, always leaving the animal an escape route;

- Try to appear larger than the cougar by getting above it, such as stepping up onto a stump. If you are wearing a jacket, hold it open to further increase your size;

-  Do not take your eyes off the animal or turn your back.  Do not crouch down or try to hide;

-  Be assertive. Shout, wave your arms and throw rocks. The idea is to convince the cougar you are not prey, but a potential danger; and

-  If the cougar attacks, fight back aggressively and try to stay on your feet. Cougars have been driven away by people who have fought back using anything within reach, including sticks, rocks, shovels, backpacks, and clothing –  even bare hands.  Generally, if you are aggressive enough, a cougar will flee, realizing it has made a mistake.

People are asked to report all sightings of cougars to the Conservation Officer Service call centre at 1-877-952-7277.

Bear sightings are common in B.C. and most of the bears seen are transiting through the area, doing what bears do and looking for food.

- A bear that does not find food will move on;

- It is an offence under the Wildlife Act to feed dangerous wildlife;

- Keep away from the bear and tell others to do the same;

-  Bring children and pets inside until the bear has left;

- If you do meet a bear, try to remain calm.  Do not make eye contact;

- Never approach or chase the bear. Instead face the bear without making eye contact and back away slowly; and

-  Extend your arms above your head, appearing as large as you can, talk in a gruff voice and look for a weapon such as a rock or stick.

Conservation officers and bear awareness groups suggest adopting the following practices into your daily routine:

— Keep garbage secured in the house, garage or shed until pick-up day and return the containers to the secure site once they are emptied;

— Pick ripe and fallen fruit daily and remove any unused fruit trees;

— Use bird feeders only in winter;

— Keep the ground free of seeds and nuts or treats for the squirrels and other wildlife, as food is plentiful for them at this time of year;

— Clean the barbecue grill after each use. The smell of salmon or meat wafting from a grill for hours will draw bears. Store barbecues covered in a secure area;

—  Don’t add meat products or uncooked food to compost, and turn it regularly and keep it covered; and.

— Work with your neighbours to create a bear aware and problem-free neighbourhood.

If a bear is threatening, persistent or aggressive, call the Report All Poachers hotline toll free at 1-877-952-RAPP (7277) or visit their website at www.rapp.bc.ca.  For more information on bears and bear-human conflicts visit www.env.gov.bc.ca/wld/bearsmart/bearsmintro.html.

Here are some interesting facts about coyotes:

·        Coyotes have large ears that point up.  They can hear a mouse under 20 cm of snow.

·        Coyotes rarely fight with each other.  They use gestures and sounds to communicate.

·        The majority of coyotes that have bitten children have been fed by adults.

·        Coyotes have bushy black tipped tails which they carry low while in motion.

·        Coyotes are active day and night.

·        Coyotes eat a wide range of foods including rodents, fruit, insects and fish.

·        Lower Mainland coyotes weight between 20 to 35 lbs.

 

Coyotes are very adaptable creatures and are commonly found in cities across North America.  They came to the Vancouver area in the late 1980s.  A fed coyote puts your community at risk, so it is important to never feed coyotes.

What attracts coyotes to your neighbourhood?

Coyotes often will feed off pet food stored outdoors.  They will look for accessible garbage or compost, even fallen tree fruit.

If you see a coyote, it is important you appear as aggressive as possible.  Shout in a loud and deep voice while moving towards an area where there is much activity.  Do not run from the coyote, always maintaining eye contact, you can even throw objects at the coyote.

Coyote sightings can be reported to Stanley Park Ecology Society through their website at www.stanleyparkecology.ca or by calling 604-681-WILD (9453).  The Stanley Park Ecology Society will also provide coyote information to individuals, groups and organizations.  Please report aggressive coyotes or the feeding of coyotes to the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection at 1-800-663-9453.

 

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