September 21, 2020, will be remembered as one of the most dramatic days Moose Jaw saw this year...the morning a cougar came for a visit.
Our #3 story of the year began when the big cat was first spotted on a doorbell camera on James Street in the early hours of the morning. Compliance manager with the Conservation Service Bruce Reid, explained that the young cougar was likely migrating through the green space along Spring Creek as it searched for new hunting grounds.
"It can be assumed that it had lost its territory or that its mother had pushed it away," said Reid, "that's very common with cats. They're solitary and need their own territory and they travel great distances to do that."
The cougar was estimated to have been a young adult and weigh at least 100 pounds. Even though the cougar was relatively young, it still posed a significant threat to the public, especially small children and pets.
"They are an apex predator and this was a large animal."
The Moose Jaw Police Service and conservation officers spent the day tracking the cougar throughout the northwestern part of the city. There were four reported and three confirmed sightings of the cougar and police officers finally had to use a drone to track it down.
"They are a very elusive animal, as most cats are," said Reid. "It can disappear just like that. There are lots of places to hide in a residential or business area. Behind fences or under decks."
The threat became very real for some families in the vicinity of King George and St Agnes elementary schools when parents received this message from the principals.
Finally, after a day-long effort to try and get the cougar to leave the urban area, the search team made the difficult decision to euthanize the big cat just before midnight, Sep. 21. Reid said that the actions taken were regrettable but necessary.
"Tranquilizing an animal is not as easy of a process as it sometimes appears on television. It takes four to seven minutes after a dart strikes an animal like that for it to take effect. That gives [the animal] four to seven minutes to escape. Unless you have a very secure space where it can't escape from, the odds of it getting away before it actually goes unconscious would be very high. With public safety being of the utmost importance, it was decided that we needed to remove it."