Bragg Creek wildlife group issues warning after several dogs killed by cougar

Cougars continue to be a big problem for residents of Bragg Creek and area, and a grassroots group is out with another warning after it says many dogs have been killed over the last month.

Bragg Creek Wild (BCW), made up of residents of the area, promotes pro-wildlife behaviours and celebrates wildlife and natural habitats, according to its Facebook page.

On October 25, the group said six “beloved family dogs” had been lost to cougar activity in the Wintergreen community.

It urged residents not to take matters into their own hands, and instead focus on peaceful and constructive solutions.

Local animal control, wildlife conservation agencies, and community leaders can be approached for help and guidance, BCW added.

The group explained it is legal to shoot a cougar on one’s property in Alberta, using guns in a community neighbourhood can pose risks and lead to unitended consequences.

“Let’s prioritize the safety of our community and work together to find a humane and responsible resolution,” the group said. “Let us honor the memory of these beautiful dogs by fostering compassion, understanding, and unity within our community.”

Just days ago, BCW said “fresh” reports of cougar sightings and encounters were being made once again.

This included three new incidents involving pets, mostly near the Redwood Meadows area.

“It is clear this cougar(s) is becoming bolder. We are renewing our call for caution,” the group wrote, in part, on Nov. 19. “By eliminating the cougar’s opportunity for a meal, it will eventually move on. Let’s do our part!”

BCW advises residents to never feed wildlife — it says feeding or leaving fallen bird seed or salt licks that attract wildlife such as deer to a property will attract cougars and other predators.

The group explains that urban deer that get food from unnatural sources such as a yard tend to become slower and more docile, making them easier prey for cougars. Cougars may be more likely to enter human-use areas if the deer there are easier to catch.

Residents can also avoid attracting small animals to their yards by keeping their garbage in a container with a tight-fitting lid.

Motion-activated security lights are also suggested for homeowners as they can help scare away curious cougars.

BCW says if one sees a cougar not to run or turn one’s back, to keep children and pets close, and show the animal you’re not easy prey.

Officials also suggest carrying bear spray when venturing into cougar territory.

The group says cougar attacks on humans are very rare. The majority happen with adults who are in cougar territory alone, or with children.

It adds that sightings have been on the rise over the last 10 years because more people are living and recreating in traditional cougar habitats.

A healthy population of prey animals has also contributed to the growth of the cougar population, Bragg Creek Wild says.

For more information on how to prevent human-wildlife conflict, visit the Government of Alberta website.

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