02/20/2014 01:10 EST | Updated 04/22/2014 05:59 EDT

Four Cougars Shot Near School In Cranbrook, B.C.

Conservation officers in Cranbrook, B.C, say they were forced to shoot a family of cougars after they were spotted feeding on a deer in a residential neighbourhood.

The officers were called out after four juvenile cougars were spotted eating a deer not far from Parkland Middle School near Elizabeth Lake. The officers used trained dogs to tree the cougars, and then made the difficult decision to shoot them.

"Obviously public safety is our top priority, and that's what we had to put in front of the emotional part of putting down four juvenile cougar," said conservation officer Jared Connatty.

Connatty said the animals were exhibiting "normal, natural behaviour" just not in a normal, natural place.

The cougars' mother was treed the next day. However, conservation officers decided to collar her so they can track her movements.

"We don't deem her a public safety threat. The juveniles that were put down were based on their age, their behaviour and where they've been living," said Connatty.

The cougars were likely drawn to the neighbourhood by habituated deer.

"Urban deer do present a bit of an invitation for cougar to come in. That's what they're used to killing and there's deer right there," said Connatty.

Cranbrook was the first town in B.C. to trap and kill deer because of the predators they draw into town.

Also on HuffPost

Photo gallery Baby Cougar Near Powell River See Gallery