File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS An orphaned cougar is recovering from frostbite and hunger in Williams Lake, B.C., after conservation officers enticed him into a trap with sardines and some lamb. Officers believe his mother was killed by a vehicle.

Orphaned cougar in B.C.’s Interior recovers from frostbite and hunger

WILLIAMS LAKE, B.C. — A young cougar left hungry and orphaned when its mother was hit by a vehicle is recovering from frostbite in Williams Lake, B.C.

Ron LeBlanc of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service said residents reported seeing a small cat in the area.

Officers searched outside a home Monday where the animal was last spotted.

“Sure enough, the little guy was on the deck under some lawn furniture,” LeBlanc said.

They used a live trap with sardines and lamb as enticements, and within hours it was caught, he said, adding the homeowner thought his dog may have tangled with the cat.

Officers tranquilized it before assessing its condition.

“Really the only thing that we found is both his ear tips had frostbite and he was skinny and dehydrated. But other than that, he had no punctures or injuries or broken bones or any of that kind of stuff.”

The kitten is two or three months old and about twice the size of an adult house cat.

Its claws are razor sharp and it has a healthy appetite for meat, LeBlanc added with a chuckle.

Before they found the kitten, conservation officers hoped it would reconnect with its mother.

“A couple of days prior to this we had a female adult killed on the highway. She was lactating when we found her so we knew she had kittens,” he said, adding officers searched the area but couldn’t find any sign of her young.

There are no facilities in Canada that rehabilitate cougar kittens to return to the wild, but LeBlanc said the Greater Vancouver Zoo was willing to take in the animal. It will be transferred there next week.

“We struggled with this,” he said, adding they didn’t want the cougar to be in a zoo for the rest of its life but the other alternative was putting it down.

LeBlanc’s wife is enamoured with the cougar and has suggested a few names for it, he said, adding they’ve decided to leave the naming up to the zoo.

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