Urban deer don’t attract cougars

Re: “Cougar sightings reason to cull deer,” letter, Oct. 7.

I would like to dispel a widely held but incorrect view: that urban deer are attracting cougars. I am a retired biologist with 35 years of experience in wildlife management.

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In the late 1970s, the B.C. Fish and Wildlife Branch produced maps that illustrated the distribution and abundance of each of the province’s large mammal species. I did the extensive background research for the cougar map.

One common thread was cougars coming into Victoria. This is nothing new and has happened every year as far back as records have been kept. In 1973, a cougar was shot on the steps of the Carnegie Building at Yates and Blanshard. Around the same time, another one entered the main foyer of a downtown office building. In 1998, a cougar walked into the old office of Scott Plastics near Fisherman’s Wharf.

These are a few of many such cases. All of these examples were in the last century. Deer only became numerous in Victoria since the year 2000.

Cougars are territorial, and young ones are forced into marginal areas by mature cats that occupy the best territories. This sometimes means living nearer to people than the cougar would like.

Generally, cougars want nothing to do with people, and if you think about it, how would they even know the deer are here? Do people think there is a sign in cougar language at the top of the Malahat that reads: “For a good lunch, go to Oak Bay”?

John Thornton

Victoria

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