Conservation officers trying to trap cougar on Newcastle Island

Conservation officers trying to trap cougar on Newcastle Island

WATCH: Three confirmed sightings of a cougar on Newcastle Island near Nanaimo has authorities taking action. Cougars have been on Newcastle Island before but with this being high tourist season the conservation service doesn’t want to take any chances. Kendall Hanson reports.

It was supposed to be a sight-seeing trip around Newcastle Island but these kayakers got a sight they never expected to see.

They spotted a cougar laying on the shores of Newcastle Island.

“It was like right there laying on the rocks,” said Sergey Miranda, who took pictures of the cougar. “It was just chilling there. It was beautiful.”

“The colour of the animal. How relaxed he was. You could see he was happy and healthy there,” said Andria Santos, who also saw the cougar.

They watched it for about a minute before the cougar got up and retreated into the forest.

Theirs were one of three confirmed cougar sightings on Newcastle Island since the beginning of July.

The four square kilometre provincial park is a popular summer destination just a short boat ride from Nanaimo.

Today conservation officers went to the island to try to trap the big cat.

Cougars have visited the island before but it’s rare for them to swim over during the summer.

“Wintertime it happens but we don’t get that worried about it because there are no people here,” said Stuart Bates, a BC Conservation Officer. “So far the cougar has done nothing to warrant it’s destruction but given the number of people that frequent this park on a daily basis our concern is that the people will likely cause a problem where the cougar would be destroyed. Our goal is to capture the cougar and relocate it before we have to destroy it.”

Parks officials closed off part of the walking trail around the island and put up warning signs.

Conservation officers set two traps near a deer recently killed by the cougar.

They suspect the cougar will come back to eat later, and will hopefully enter a trap.

“The biggest issue we have here is there is a lot of food, natural food for him to prey on here so he’s not really destined to have to go into a trap,” said Bates. “So we’re going to do everything we can to entice him and there’s also the possibility that he swam off as he swam here.”

Officials are asking people to stay away from the northwest part of the island which is marked with signs.

They say that will give them the best chance of capturing and relocating the cougar successfully.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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