Sylvan Lake RCMP are defending a decision to shoot and kill a cougar after accusations from the public that the animal wasn't given a fair chance.
According to a press release, RCMP were called Wednesday evening after a cougar was spotted prowling the property of Fairway Estates. Fish and Wildlife officers were also called to the scene, where they found large footprints and were able to track the animal to a collapsed gazebo, where it had taken cover.
After an assessment, officers decided the cougar's behaviour "was a threat to public safety" and the cat was euthanized.
A post on the Sylvan Lake News Facebook page, which shows a photo an officer posing with the dead cougar, has received more than 1,300 comments, with many outraged the animal was shot instead of relocated.
"The cougar should have been tranquilized and moved. If cougars don't come into the city often then there was absolutely no reason to shoot it. Whoever did this should be ashamed," wrote commenter Ashley Sheppard.
"This is an atrocity to animal kind. The police have NO right to shoot unless the cougar was poising [sic] a threat. Justice needs to be brought to the cougar, I hope an activist group takes this to court," echoed Maureen Chambers.
However, others defended the actions of the officers, saying they would rather human lives be put before the lives of animals.
"I live blocks from where this animal was put down. I have 2 young boys at home, so I say thank you. When a wild and unpredictable predator is found within town, no chances should be taken. Tranq it, tag it, shoo it away is taking a chance. I'd trust a bullet from a rifle before a dart from a gun. If that cat is still around come 7:30 a.m. there are 100's of kids heading out for school. No thanks," wrote Dana Schmidt.
Commenter Pat Boardman agreed, writing, "we have to consider the backlash if it had killed someone's child. Then would all the pity be here? I agree it's sad but sometimes sad things are nescassery [sic] for safety."
Const. Gordon Marshall told the Red Deer Advocate the animals are rarely seen in the area, but when spotted they are considered a serious threat.
“But it is pretty rare. They’re a pretty elusive animal,” he said. “From what I know, they’re fairly solitary but they will eat dogs, cats. There has been reports of children in the backyards that have been attacked.”
CORRECTION - An earlier version of this story said the cougar was euthanized by RCMP. In fact, it was Alberta Fish and Wildlife officers who euthanized the animal.
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