A DNA test has linked two cougar incidents in Fernie. File photo

DNA test links two cougar incidents in Fernie

Further information has surfaced linking a child that was attacked by a cougar in Morrissey last August, to a cougar that was destroyed downtown Fernie weeks later.

Conservation officers have found that the cougar that was killed in Fernie on August 26, 2018 was the same cougar that previously attacked the four-year-old child on August 12. The cougar was approximately two years of age and malnourished.

The Free Press previously reported that on August 12, a four-year-old child was taken to hospital after being attacked by a cougar at Lower Morrissey Creek. Conservation officers used contracted hounds to try and track the cougar’s location, and also set traps hoping to catch it. However, they were unsuccessful as the cougar had moved elsewhere.

Two weeks later and 16 km away from the initial report, a call came in to the Conservation Officer Service through the Report All Poachers and Polluters Hotline (RAPP) that a cougar was spotted downtown Fernie in the backyard of a resident.

Two conservation officers attended the call and watched the cougar for some time.

“As it was getting dark one of the CO’s turned to go back to the truck to get a larger flashlight,” explained Conservation Officer Patricia Burley in a release issued April 18.

“When the CO turned his back the cougar pounced at the other CO who had to dispatch it.”

Burley further explained that a sample from the cougar was sent to a wildlife genetics lab along with the victim’s clothing. In September they received a letter from the lab stating the cougar that was killed in Fernie August 26 was the same cougar that previously attacked the child.

“Cougar attacks on humans are very rare, furthermore this is the only case in BC history where DNA found at the first attack site tested positive to a re-offending animal that was dispatched several weeks later, and many kilometres away from the original attack site,” said Burley.

“This gave the victim’s family closure that the offending animal was now euthanized,” she said.

The child has since fully recovered.

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