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NANAIMO - The British Columbia Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks is advising the public to take extra caution during spring outdoor activities, especially when walking or riding in the woods and when camping. While cougars are generally shy and elusive animals and rarely attack humans, a hungry cougar may come into contact with people during its search for food, usually in the hours between dusk until dawn when cougars are most active. Cougars primarily prey on deer, but will also feed on elk, rabbits, beaver, grouse, and occasionally livestock and household pets. Local residents are advised to follow certain procedures in order to protect themselves, their families and domestic animals from cougars, and reduce the threat of attack in areas where cougar sightings have been reported: Accompany small children to school if their walk takes them adjacent to heavily treed or wooded areas. Keep smaller pets and/or livestock within an enclosed area. If a cougar is encountered it will likely run away, however the following steps should be taken in the event that an encounter does occur: Never run or turn your back on a cougar. Always watch the cougar and know where it is. Give the cougar room to escape. Pick up nearby children and small household pets. Raise your arms to look bigger. Act aggressively, and if possible throw rocks or sticks at the cougar. All cougar sightings in residential and semi-rural areas should be immediately reported to the Conservation Officer Service during office hours, or by calling 1-800-663-WILD (9453). Conservation Officers will pursue a public tip if it is determined that there is a threat to livestock, property damage or human safety. The appropriate action will depend on the threat to public safety, the nature of the complaint, and the age and health of the animal.

Uploaded: 3/17/2001