Wild Cougar Facts & Safety Tips

Mountain Lion In The Okanagan British Columbia

The wild cougar, also called mountain lion or puma cat is Canada's largest cat, and is a part of natural wildlife in the Okanagan Valley BC.

When you venture into Okanagan British Columbia backcountry, you are stepping into the heart of mountain lion territory.

Here are some facts about mountain lions to help you understand their behavior, what to do if you encounter one in the wilderness, and also tips to act responsibly while sharing their natural habitat.

In British Columbia, cougars are mostly found in the southern third of the province, with the largest mountain lions being found in the Interior, including the Okanagan and the Kootenay regions.

cougar mountain lion

Cougars are ambush predators - at the top of the food chain - and their actions are often very unpredictable.

Next to bears, the mountain lion is the Canada's most powerful predator, and is capable of killing prey up to six times their own weight.

In spite of their size, cougars are extremely wary, and are not often seen in their natural habitat by people.

A wild cougar has all of the grace and playfulness of house cat; it purrs, and even has a taste for catnip.

Large male cougars can measure 2.5 m (8 ft.) in length and can weigh more than 90 kg (200 lb.).

Cougars are a vital part of biodiversity in the Okanagan and British Columbia.

It's always a thrill to see a wild animal as long as you know how to make sure they don't make you part of their food chain.

In the Okanagan wild cougar are more common in the southern part of the valley, east to the Kootenay region and west through the Similkameen (Keremeos to Princeton BC) and into the Cascade Mountain area.

Although cougar attacks are extremely rare, sighting can occur anytime of year, and reported sightings do occur each and every year.

cougar tracks

A wild cougar in British Columbia is reddish-brown to grey-brown in color, with lighter underparts. It has a small head relative to it's body, and non spotted short fur.

Very young kittens are spotted, with ringed tails; this coloration is gradually lost as young cougar reach adulthood. Adults are unmarked.

Cougars have long tails which may be one-third of their total body length.

An adult male mountain lion weighs between 63 and 90 kg (140-200 lbs), and a female cougar, between 40 and 50 kg (90-120 lbs).

The cougar patrols a territory of 125 to 175 square miles and marks its boundaries with "scrapes" consisting of a mound of dirt and forest litter, urine and dung.

Wild cougar, or mountain lion habitat includes rocky and mountainous terrain, but it is also found in forested and open areas. A cougar will travel long distances in search of prey. It's favorite dish is deer, but the mountain lion will eat nearly any meat from tiny mice to large animals, and including porcupine, beaver, varying hare, moose, elk, wild sheep, mountain goats, black bear (cubs), grouse, coyote, other cougar, domestic stock, and household pets.

And although cougars are most active at dawn and dusk, they will hunt at any time of the day or night in all seasons.

Cougars have four toes with three distinct lobes present at the base of the pad. Claws are retractable, so they usually do not leave imprints. If tracks show two or more cougars traveling together, it probably indicates a female with kittens.

Mountain Lion Safety

Many of the safety precautions suggested for bears apply to cougars as well.

  • Keep pets leashed always, or better yet, leave them at home. A wild cougar will eat house pets.

  • Watch for cougar signs including tracks, droppings, scratched trees and food caches. Cougars also urinate or defecate on piles of forest debris to mark their territory. These piles, called scrapes, also indicate the presence of cougars.

  • Never hike alone and carry a strong walking stick that can be used as a weapon should you encounter a wild cougar.

  • Always keep children nearby and in sight. Cougars are attracted to children because of their small size and high voices. A mountain lion may confuse a child with prey. Never let children wander.

  • In the unlikely event you find cougar kittens, leave the area immediately. A female cougar will defend her young as fiercly as she needs to.

  • Cougars do not bluff charge. And playing dead is never recommended in a cougar attack. If a cougar attacks, always fight back. Try to keep the animal in front of you at all times. Do your best to convince the cougar you are a threat, not prey. Use anything you can as a weapon. Make yourself look as large as possible. Never run or turn your back on a wild cougar. Focus your attack on the cougar's face and eyes.

Dangerous sightings of wild cougar can be reported to the Conservation Officer Service call centre at 1-877-952-RAPP(7277), or #7277 on the TELUS Mobility Network.

More about Okanagan wildlife...

Wild Horses
Western Rattle Snake
Bear Facts
Ogopogo ;-)

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Authored By: E. Friedrich Copyright© 2008-2020-forever OkanaganVacationGuide.com All Rights Reserved