A cougar that triggered a public warning as it wandered through part of Sylvan Lake on Wednesday evening was later killed by Alberta Fish and Wildlife officers.
Sylvan Lake RCMP confirmed the very unusual sighting around 7:50 p.m. and cautioned residents around the Sylvan Lake Golf and Country Club to keep their children and pets indoors. The areas included the neighbourhoods of Willow Springs, Fairway Estates, Fox Run and Marina Bay.
Just before 9:30 p.m., RCMP issued another press release stating the cougar had been located and was no longer a threat to the public.
Fish and Wildlife officers were called in earlier to help RCMP members, who were tracking the cougar through backyards in the Marina Bay area.
They arrived to assess the situation soon after RCMP had the animal cornered in a backyard on Lakeshore Drive, said Brendan Cox, a spokesperson with the provincial Justice and Solicitor General’s office.
“The cougar was subsequently euthanized by Fish and Wildlife officers. It’s unfortunate that it had to be euthanized but safety of the public has to be our officers’ first priority in these situations,” Cox said.
“Cougars are typically very shy of humans and they tend to leave the area quickly if they know a human is nearby. This cougar’s behaviour was a threat to public safety and attempting to tranquilize the cougar could have further aggravated him as tranquilizing doesn’t always result in immediate sedation.”
The cougar was a sub-adult male, about 63.5 kg or 140 pounds.
Cox added it’s important for the public to avoid feeding deer, as it could draw in larger predators like cougars.
“We believe this cougar was drawn in by deer and possibly even stray pets,” he said.
The cougar population is healthy across Alberta, but it is still rare to see them in urban settings, Cox said.
Const. Gordon Marshall of Sylvan Lake RCMP said there was a report of a cougar earlier in the year on the other side of the lake, north of Birchcliff Road.
“But it is pretty rare. They’re a pretty elusive animal,” Marshall said. “From what I know, they’re fairly solitary but they will eat dogs, cats. There have been reports of children in the backyards that have been attacked.”
Alberta Parks closed several trails near Canmore on Thursday as well due to cougar sightings.
Three cougars were killed earlier this year at Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park in southeastern Alberta after animals attacked family pets.
Anyone with concerns about cougar activity can call the 24-hour Report A Poacher line at 1-800-642-3800.