09/11/2013 16:01 EDT | Updated 11/11/2013 05:12 EST

Cougar trapped, killed in Nanaimo

A cougar that conservation officers say has been prowling a Nanaimo neighbourhood for weeks has been trapped and killed.

Sgt. Ben York, the chief conservation officer for the central coast of Vancouver Island, says officers decided to set a trap because of the high number of calls they received about sightings in the Hammond Bay area.

He says the cougar was caught early yesterday morning and had to be killed.

"In this instance, this animal had already shown significant behavioural change,” York said.

“It was heavily habituated to people. It had obviously decided that urban environments with all of their urban deer was a good location to hunt and, frankly, habituation to humans can be the first step on a behavioural progression where the animal may become a threat to pets or even people. We're not willing to take that risk."

York says he does not have statistics for this year yet, but anecdotally it appears there are more cougars entering urban areas.

Earlier this week, a 60-year-old woman was taken to hospital after she was attacked by a cougar on Flores Island, about 20 kilometres northwest of Tofino.

Officials say the woman's common-law partner fought the animal off with a spear.