Animal activists say police should have tranquilizers, not guns for wild animals

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On Nov. 21, Victoria Police officers shot a killed a cougar on Waterfront Crescent.

Animal activists say there should be a better way to deal with dangerous animals in Vancouver Island cities other than killing them.

Late Monday afternoon, with conservation too far away, Victoria Police made the decision to fatally shoot a cougar that was reported to be acting aggressively.

“Unfortunately we had to make the difficult decision,” said Const. Terri Healy with Victoria Police “Community safety is always our number one priority when dealing with these types of incidents.”

A large cougar had been seen prowling the area near Waterfront Crescent just off Jutland Road since early Tuesday morning. Officers had tried to contain it but failed, and lost track of the cat.

The second call of sightings came in around 4 p.m.

“There’s a school, there’s a preschool there’s a Montessori school in that area. It’s also a connector to the Galloping Goose, so given the time of day there are quite a few people in the area. So there’s a high risk to community safety,” said Healy.

Victoria Police say prior to making the call to kill the animal, they notified BC’s Conservation Service, which carries tranquilizers, but they were unable to attend right away.

“The closest officer was about an hour away and the Victoria Police made the ultimate decision,” said Insp. Drew Milne, with BC Conservation.

Animal advocates say police should either be better equipped or choose non-lethal interventions first.

“It’s very troubling to me that they had to take this step,” said Sinikka Crosland, with the Animal Alliance of Canada. “All police officers should have access to tranquilizers in situations like this.”

Crosland also suggests there should be more than two conservation officers per day to cover Vancouver Island south of Chemainus.

“I wish that conservation officers could be more accessible,” said Crosland.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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