What Cougars Do on Highways

What do cougars do when they reach the highway? Sometimes they cross it right away and other times they like to sit on it for a while. This video taken by a thermal camera on Highway 3 in British Columbia near Elko shows that occasionally the cats like to take in their surroundings before moving on. Knowing the potential hazard that exists when wildlife makes its way onto roads, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure in British Columbia (TranBC) installed two Wildlife Detection Systems between Cranbrook and the Alberta border to help reduce collisions, human injury and animal fatalities.

The video, which is sped up, revealed that the cat actually sat in the middle of the road for over three minutes. The thermal cameras pick up on the heat signatures coming from the animals and work with radar sensors which then alert drivers to the presence of wildlife with flashing roadside signs. The flashing signs, which continue to flash for several minutes after detecting an animal, give the driver enough advance warning to slow down in time thus averting a potential tragedy. TranBC says it is not uncommon for drivers to see the flashing signs, but no wildlife which may be gone by the time the driver approaches.

The system has been in use for about three months now and is installed at two sites covering nine kilometers where large populations of wildlife are known to be. It was tested before being officially put into use for travelers and will continue to be monitored by TranBC to determine how effective it is at reducing vehicle collisions with wildlife. If proven successful they will consider installing more at other wildlife hot spots around the province.

It would be great to see this type of technology become standard practice, along with wildlife crossing or bridges, at wildlife hot spots all over North America and, especially in areas where cougars face a high mortality rate from vehicles. Hopefully transportation departments will consider these tools as the norm one day soon and include them as standard practice when planning for roads and highways.

Cougars and Bears Oh My

Last week video of three Cougars, and Bears, was captured at Mossom Creek Hatchery in Port Moody BC. The footage was taken by a surveillance camera at the facility and it shows what is likely a mother Cougar with her youngsters stopping to hang out before heading back into the woods. Maybe they heard about the fish special? Youngsters typically stay with mom for 12 to 18 months which is enough time for them to acquire proper hunting skills. (Check out the link to article above to see video of the Bears to.)

It is been reported that Cougar sightings are on the rise in the area and this means humans need to be aware of surroundings especially when out with kids or dogs. Cougars are solitary cats and want to avoid people, however as we encroach more on more on their habitat encounters can happen. Sadly there are still many stories of non-aggressive Cougars being killed by humans when non-lethal methods could have been employed. The culture of fear and ignorance seems to be prevalent when it comes to these animals even in Canada.

While the trio of Cougars were being celebrated, earlier that same week one was killed in West Vancouver simply for being on a trail.  The officer walked right up to the cat “It was just laying there on the ground, [so] I was able to approach him and killed him on site there,” said conservation officer Simon Gravel. “It definitely is a public safety concern for us to have a cougar walking in so high-density, residential area in the middle of the day like this.