Like many wildlife species, cougars call West Vancouver and the North Shore home. Cougars are most active between dusk and dawn but can be seen at all times of the day. Understanding their behaviour and why they may be close to trails or urban environments is the first step to keeping you and your pets safe in the rare event that you have an encounter with a cougar.
Living and Recreating in Cougar Country
Cougar sightings are very rare. Even so, you should always be prepared to see a cougar when living and recreating on the North Shore.
What to do…
If you encounter a cougar:
- Stay calm
- Pick up children and small pets immediately
- Make yourself look large
- Maintain eye contact, and keep the cougar in sight
- Speak to it in a loud firm voice
- Slowly back away, never turn your back
- Give the cougar space and a clear exit route from the area
If approached or attacked by a cougar:
- Be big, brave, and loud! Show the cougar you are not food and use a loud firm tone to say, “Go away cougar!”
- Maintain eye contact
- Make yourself look large and aggressive by putting your arms in the air, or holding up an item that you have with you such as a bike or backpack
- Throw sticks or rocks if possible (avoid crouching for very long while you find them)
- Prepare your bear spray or deterrent if you have it and know how to use it safely
- Slowly distance yourself (fast movements could trigger a natural chase response)
- If attacked, fight with everything you have. Focus on the eyes and face.
- Hike and ride with a buddy or group, and avoid prolonged silence
- Avoid wearing headphones and stay aware of your surroundings
- Avoid hiking and cycling between dusk and dawn, even in urban areas
- Keep pets on a short leash and children close and in sight
- Educate children and practice for a cougar or wildlife encounter often
Eliminate Attractants for Prey Species
Cougars hunt deer, coyotes, raccoons, and small mammals like rats and mice. Reduce wildlife attractants to prevent attracting these animals and help make your property and neighbourhood less inviting for cougars.
- Keep pet food indoors, do not use birdseed, and ensure fruits and berries in your garden are picked when ripe
- Keep garbage and your Green Can in a wildlife-secure location during the week, and set-out material on collection day only, not the night before.
- Manage rodent infestations
- Supervise cats outdoors, and keep them inside between dusk and dawn