By Marcia Love
A resident’s up-close encounter with a cougar in her backyard had residents on the look out for the animal over the weekend, but the large cat is believed to have been shot north of town.
The first sighting was reported at 8 a.m. on Sept. 20 on the 200 block of Sidney Street.
Giselle Delorme was relaxing in her backyard enjoying her morning coffee on Sunday when the large cat entered her yard.
“I was just sitting on the deck by the door and… it came right up to the deck,” she said, adding it was within 10 feet of her. “I just froze. I thought, ‘What do I do?’ I didn’t want to look this thing in the eyes and I didn’t want him to see me. Then finally I thought, ‘OK, I have to run inside the house.'”
When she made some noise as she stood up to rush into the house, the animal took off, exiting the way it entered her yard through the east side by her garage.
“That was just too close for comfort for me,” said the shaken resident. “It was right there.”
Delorme immediately called a local conservation officer, and two arrived at her home a short time later.
“They were here right away,” Delorme said, noting the officers searched her yard and the alley. “They were really good about it.”
Cougars are known to travel at dusk and dawn, but that afternoon another sighting was reported. At about 4 p.m., a family on Marsh Street reported seeing the large cat jump from their roof.
Authorities were out searching for the animal throughout the day, but were unable to locate it.
However, conservation officers were notified yesterday morning a resident had shot a cougar about a mile northwest of town.
“A cougar had been chased up a tree by some dogs and the resident then shot and killed the cougar and reported it to our officers,” explained conservation officer Rich Hildebrand.
The cat was a male reported to be about 18 months old. It is believed to be the same animal spotted on Sunday, although authorities are unsure at this time.
“They’re just asking residents to practice caution and safety, and if they see anything to give our officers a call,” Hildebrand said.
Conservation officers can be reached any time at 1-800-667-7561 or from a SaskTel cellphone at #5555.
Sidney Street School staff took precautions yesterday, keeping students inside the building all day.
This is not the first time cougar sightings have been reported in town. Last November, a resident on the 200 block of Griffin Street reported seeing a cougar on his backyard fence. Several sightings were reported in the summer of 2013, including one spotted in the downtown on the 200 block of Jasper Street at dawn by several local firefighters. In September 2011, a resident reported sighting one along the south end of Lonsdale Street.
According to Carl Morrison, a University of Alberta student who spent several years studying the cougars at Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, anyone who encounters the animal should keep children and pets close, speak in a loud, assertive voice, and give the cat room to escape. He stated the animal prefers to avoid human contact.
As for Delorme, she hopes that’s the last she’s seen of any cougars.
“Hopefully it’s gone,” she said. “I don’t want to see it again, that’s for sure.”