Cougar and Wild Cat Protection in British Columbia


Cougars (also known as mountain lions or pumas) are the largest wildcat in Canada. There are 4 subspecies of cougars living across the country, though the majority of Canada’s cougar population is located in BC and Alberta. They play an important role in their respective ecosystems. CITES (2015) estimates that the current Canadian cougar population is between 7000 and 10,000 individuals.
Cougars are curious and highly intelligent. Once thought to be solitary, researchers recently discovered that cougars have complex social structures and have even been found to share food. Unfortunately, cougars contend with several threats including habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict, and trophy hunting.
Cougars primarily eat deer and avoid humans. Killing big cats disrupts their social structure and may exacerbate conflicts with humans and other animals. Thankfully, there are many ways to prevent conflicts with mountain lions.



Bobcats are the smallest of the 3 wildcats in Canada. Bobcats are found throughout southern Canada and are closely related to the Canada Lynx. These intelligent animals are able to adapt to a wide variety of habitats and are excellent climbers, jumpers, and swimmers!

Canada Lynx

Canada Lynx

Canada lynx are found throughout Canada and are slightly larger than their bobcat relatives. Like Canada’s other wildcats, they are intelligent and elusive. They are uniquely adapted to winter; their thick fur coats and snowshoe-esque paws are perfectly suited to snowy winters! Their fur also provides excellent camouflage in winter environments.

Preventing Conflicts With Cougars

Understanding cougars and their habits, along with recognizing that they are our wild neighbors is the first step toward co-existing with them. Simply seeing a cougar, or signs that a cougar was in the area, is not reason for alarm.

If you live in or near cougar habitat, making a few changes to your landscape and your behavior can significantly reduce your chances of drawing in unwanted wild visitors—not only cougars, but also bears, coyotes, and wolves.

  • Store trash in clean, well-secured containers. Wash trash cans to avoid attracting potential prey species such as raccoons.
  • Don’t leave pet food outside. Either feed pets indoors or remove food immediately after they’ve eaten.
  • Don’t feed deer or other wildlife that may attract cougars.
  • Don’t compost meat scraps or other foods that would attract cougars or their prey.
  • Trim vegetation around your house to avoid providing concealment for cougars as they rely on cover to ambush their prey. Your yard need not be completely barren, but it shouldn’t include dense underbrush that would allow a cougar to hide undetected.
  • Seal open areas under structures like porches, sheds and decks that can provide shelter for cougars or their prey.
  • Install lighting or motion-sensor lighting in dark areas around the home to deter cougars and other wildlife.

See other tips for co-existing peacefully with wildlife.

Recreation in Cougar Country

When living or engaging in recreational activity (such as hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, horse-back riding) in cougar country, the best way to prevent a conflict with a cougar is to take a few extra precautions:
  • Take a friend with you; avoid venturing into cougar country alone.
  • Be aware of your surroundings (i.e. don’t wear headphones).
  • Bring along a whistle or an air horn that could help scare away wild animals you may encounter.
  • Keep children under the age of 16 close and don’t allow young children to play outdoors unsupervised. Walk with children between two adults or hold them by the hand.
  • Keep your dog on a leash 6 feet long or less.

What to Do if You Encounter a Cougar

  • Don’t run! Running will provoke the predatory chasing behaviour of cougars, as it would with other predators such as bears, coyotes, and wolves.
  • Pick up small children or pets that are with you.
  • Directly face the cougar, but look at the cougar’s feet, not directly into their eyes, to avoid appearing aggressive.
  • If the cougar displays aggressive behaviour try to appear larger—raise your arms or open your jacket over your head.
  • Make noise by yelling, blowing a whistle or an air horn.
  • If you have an umbrella, quickly open and close it while facing the cougar.
  • Do not approach the cougar. Give it ample space to run away – don’t corner it.
Photo of a cat laying down

Protecting Pets

Wild cats pose only a small risk to pets, but those risks can be minimized with some common sense and preventative measures:
  • Keep cats indoors and always supervise small pets when outside, especially from dusk to dawn. Be aware that cougars can jump 18 feet, so most fences will not protect unsupervised pets outside.
  • Keep small pets such as rabbits or guinea pigs inside or in a secure enclosure that is covered on top.
  • Minimize brush and cover in your yard that can provide hiding places for cougars.
  • Walk your dog on a leash 6 feet long or less.

Become an Animal Defender

Help protect cougars and other wild cats and keep all animals safe.

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Image of a bowl of pasta

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A phot of a wolf howling in a snowy forest

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