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Cougar sightings and incidents appear to be increasing in the Comox Valley, according to statistics from the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.
For the 2010/11 reporting year ending March 31, the emergency co-ordination centre (Report All Poachers and Polluters) received 300 cougar-related calls. These range from sightings to pet and livestock interaction or fatalities, to physical contact with humans.
For this year, as of April 1, the centre has received 272 cougar calls, 54 from Courtenay. Last year, it received 43 calls from Courtenay.
The picture is similar in Comox with 30 cougar sightings or incidents for 2011/12 compared to 11 last year.
A cougar sighting was reported on the Labour Day weekend near Hurford Hill Nature Park in East Courtenay. Later in the week, a cougar killed a horse at a Dove Creek property.
Jerry MacDermott, a wildlife technician with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, said cougar and deer numbers have been increasing steadily throughout Vancouver Island the past five years. A rebounding deer population in the mountains means the cougar population is responding in terms of hunting and rearing more offspring.