BRITISH COLUMBIA

Cheetah In B.C. Interior Still Missing After Days

12/20/2015 10:01 EST | Updated 12/20/2015 10:59 EST

VANCOUVER — A cheetah on the loose in British Columbia's Interior is still unaccounted for after it was last spotted roaming a snowy highway in the Kootenay region last week.

As of Sunday evening, conservation officers were still urging people to phone in any sightings of the big cat.

RCMP notified the public on Thursday that the feline had been seen wandering near Crawford Bay, about 50 kilometres northeast of Nelson in the Kootenays.

"It's pretty much status quo,'' said the Environment Ministry's Danielle Bell, speaking on behalf of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service. "We've gotten some public tips and are following up on those.''

bc cheetah

RCMP warned the public about this cheetah spotted roaming near Crawford Bay, B.C. (Photo: RCMP)

The B.C. government approached the Calgary Zoo late last week asking whether the facility would be willing to house a cheetah, said zoo spokeswoman Trish Exton-Parder.

"We've got the expertise to care for them and the veterinary care to make sure they're safe and happy,'' said Exton-Parder.

Calgary doesn't have any cheetahs of its own, but Exton-Parder said such an animal could be held comfortably in a temporary quarantine. Though the public would not be able to view the cat given the lack of an appropriate exhibit, she said.

"We could also offer some assistance to the B.C. government to help find another home ... that is accredited,'' she added.

"It could be hungry, and any animal that is hungry may do things that may not be in its character.''

Exton-Parder referenced the numerous offers of assistance the Calgary facility received in the aftermath of the 2013 Alberta floods.

"That's how accredited zoos help each other out,'' she said. "We're all on the same page. We're trying just to help wildlife.''

Currently, Vancouver's zoo holds the only permit to possess a cheetah in B.C., according to a statement from the Forests Ministry.

The statement said the ministry had received a permit application to possess a cheetah in the Kootenay region and that application is currently under review.

bc cheetah

"However, ministry staff advise there is no indication or information as to whether the cheetah on loose is or could be related to the above permit application,'' the statement said.

Insp. Joe Caravetta of the Conservation Officer Service said last week that the provincial wildlife veterinarian doesn't believe the missing cheetah poses a threat to the public.

"We want to be able to find this cheetah and, for its own health and benefit, be able to capture it and get it to a facility and have it checked out,'' Caravetta said on Friday.

"It could be hungry, and any animal that is hungry may do things that may not be in its character.''

The RCMP are encouraging people to keep an eye on small children and pets until the animal is located.

— With files from Laura Kane