09/11/2011 04:25 EDT | Updated 11/11/2011 05:12 EST

3 cougars killed in Squamish

In one 24-hour period this weekend, B.C. conservation officers killed three cougars that were bothering people and attacking household pets near Squamish.

Conservation officer Chris Doyle said his department believed the big cats were all part of the same cougar family and had become habituated to Squamish's populated areas.

"It appears they probably also have been hunting house cats and other domestic animals within the community," he said on Saturday.

Doyle said that over the last six weeks, the cats had become a significant problem.

"[It included] encounters with mountain bikers, and cougars approaching people on trails, and cougars approaching people in their yards and being a little too comfortable in residential areas," he said.

"Additionally, there was a report of somebody being stalked by a cougar two mornings ago in the Garibaldi Highlands area," he added.

Doyle said two cougars were killed on Friday night after they were spotted entering the backyards of Garibaldi Highlands residents. The third cougar was tracked and killed on Saturday.

Since the beginning of summer, there have been dozens of cougar sightings throughout B.C. and at least three attacks on people. The community of Esquimalt was put on alert after three possible cougar sightings on Thursday and Friday.

Doyle said cougar encounters are up this year, but he couldn't immediately say why.