WHEREAS according to the Alberta Environment and Parks document titled Management Plan for Cougars in Alberta, Wildlife Management Planning Series Number 8, cougar (Puma concolor) sightings and interactions among humans increased in the 20-year period up to 2012; and
WHEREAS in Alberta, according to the Wildlife Regulation, a landowner or occupant can authorize any resident to assist with the killing of wolves or bears legally on his or her property at any time of year, however only the owner or occupant of land may kill a cougar; and
WHEREAS multiple sources indicate that the appropriate way to deal with a cougar that has encroached and interacts fearlessly with humans is to euthanize it; and
WHEREAS landowners, especially those with little or no hunting or firearms experience, or who lack appropriate firearms, are ill-equipped to protect themselves, their families, their livestock or their pets in the case where cougars encroach on their properties;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta request the Government of Alberta to amend section 7, subsection 3 of the Wildlife Regulation to provide the same hunting allowances for cougars on private land that already exist for wolves and black bears; and
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that section 7, subsection 8 of the Wildlife Regulation, which establishes separate hunting allowances for cougars on private land, be repealed; and
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that reporting a cougar kill remain as a requirement of the Wildlife Regulation.
In 2018, in the MD of Smoky River, a landowner living within four miles of the Town of Falher chased a cougar away from his farmyard with his pickup. The cougar entered a small treed area approximately ½ mile from his yard. The landowner, not knowing who else to turn to, called the Director of Protective Services for the MD, as he viewed the issue as an imminent threat. The employee attempted to contact Alberta Fish and Wildlife for assistance, but as this took place on a Friday after business hours, was unable to reach any Fish and Wildlife personnel. Due to the cougar’s proximity to several yard sites where young children were present, the MD employee circled the treed area several times with his vehicle, and believing the cougar had moved on, the employee entered the bush to confirm. When the employee made some noise in the treed area, the cougar jumped onto a fallen tree approximately 75 yards away, turned and snarled at the employee. The employee shot and killed the cougar and reported the kill to Fish and Wildlife. Fish and Wildlife asked the employee to come see them at their office in Peace River, which the employee did. The officer proceeded to read the employee his rights. The employee invoked his right to having an attorney present and left the Fish and Wildlife office. Fish and Wildlife later issued a written warning to the employee.
Rural Alberta is an expansive area. The MD of Smoky River is covered by three Fish and Wildlife offices which each cover a small portion of our municipality, each office is approximately 45 minutes from the Town of Falher. Assuming an incident happened during work hours, response would be at best one hour away. During non-regular hours, response time would at best be several hours and as is typical, several days away. A local emergency issue involving an apex predator requires local immediate response, whether that be with municipal or private citizen assistance. The legislation changes this resolution seeks would enable landowners who are not equipped or able to deal with a cougar on their property to seek assistance without waiting hours or potentially days for a Fish and Wildlife Officer to respond.
The following background information supports statements made in the “whereas” clauses of the resolution.
A conservative harvest regime and abundant prey populations have allowed Alberta’s cougar population to expand in distribution and increase in numbers over the past 20 years. The current provincial estimate is 2,050 cougars, distributed across most of the southern two-thirds of the province. Cougars are now common throughout much of the white zone and appear very capable of exploiting habitat near human residences and other human activity. Cougar-human conflicts and safety concerns by the public have increased, and although the majority of rural Albertans appear to value cougars, most do not want cougars to be present near their residences.
Government of Alberta leaflet “Cougars – also known as pumas or mountain lions (in the “Preventing Conflict with Wildlife” series) “Any person who is the owner or occupant of privately owned land may at any time of the year, without the use of dogs, hunt (but not trap) cougar on such lands without a license. Under this authority, registration is required within one week of the kill.”
“For high risk conflict events (e.g. cougar displays overly familiar behaviour towards people on multiple occasions or attacks a person) destroying the cougar is the most appropriate action (Cougar Management Guidelines 2005).”
“Response to cougar-human conflicts is currently directed by the Cougar Response Guide, which outlines the circumstances under which cougars of various age classes should be captured and relocated and/or euthanized. In general, cougars may be captured and relocated in situations where the investigating officer determines there is a potential public safety threat, or where a cougar has attacked pets or livestock. Cougars that make unprovoked contact with humans are euthanized.
For more information, view the following media articles:
Encounter with Cougars on the Rise Across Alberta
CALGARY HERALD – APRIL 5, 2015
CANMORE — As cougars spread out across Alberta, wildlife officials say they are noticing a steady rise in conflict between the big cats and people living in cities, towns and on private land throughout the province.
OHS Confirms More Details of Cougar Attack on Pipeline Worker
MY GRANDE PRAIRIE NOW – FEBRUARY 3, 2015
Two pipeline workers south of Grande Prairie were injured in a cougar attack.
More Precautions Needed by Hikers in Alberta to Avoid Cougar Attacks, Warns Experts
THE CANADIAN PRESS – MAY 27, 2018
Cougars are being encountered more often, people need to be aware and take more precautions to protect themselves.
RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
Alberta Environment and Parks
Cougar populations in Alberta are carefully managed to ensure sustainably, as the species is vulnerable to overharvest. Cougars are managed more carefully than black bears and wolves, using
quota-dependent seasons. Overharvest on private lands has an impact on conservation efforts within entire cougar management areas. Maintaining quotas on cougars is important to conservation efforts.
Cougar harvest by landowners is authorized to protect property and people. Hunting “problem cougars” on private land by a designate of the owner may undermine conservation efforts and could potentially be dangerous if done improperly. However, Fish and Wildlife staff have the expertise and access to professional houndsmen who are trained to respond to problem cougar complaints. Cougars that pose a threat to people, property and livestock can be reported to Fish and Wildlife staff, who will respond directly.
The response from the Government of Alberta indicates that there is not anticipated legislative or regulatory changes that impact the management of cougars and therefore, this status is assigned a status of Intent Not Met.