Investigation into cougar shot, killed after wandering too close to Calgary hospital

Written by on September 22, 2014 in Critters vs Humans vs Critters - No comments

The Alberta government has ordered a review into whether a wayward cougar should have been shot dead by wildlife officers when the animal was found hanging out around a Calgary hospital. The animal was lounging outside the South Health Campus in the city’s southeast on Sept. 18. Hospital workers, bystanders and local media documented the hours-long encounter.

Fish and Wildlife officers eventually killed the animal saying tranquilizing the animal was not an option. The decision sparked outrage.

 

 

 

  At first, the province defended its actions.

“The decision to euthanize a cougar on the grounds of the South Health Campus in Calgary was a difficult one to make, and it was made in the interest of public safety. Large predators that enter an urban area can pose a significant public safety concern. Officers would have liked to tranquilize the animal. However, tranquilizing cougars can be very risky, especially in a situation like this with the adrenaline in the cougar likely to cancel the effects of the tranquilizer. Even in normal circumstances, the drug doesn’t take effect immediately, and in a situation like today, it can make it worse—by making the cougar very agitated when hit by the dart. This, combined with the speed and agility of cougars, made it a high risk to the people nearby. The cougar was right next to the hospital entrance, and officers had to act quickly to mitigate the public safety concern before the animal escaped. It is unfortunate it ended this way, and the officers had to make a very difficult choice with public safety as their first priority.”

But that was followed by a pledge by the government to review the incident.

“To ensure proper procedure and protocol was followed, Jonathan Denis, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General has ordered a review into the incident. When ready, as much as possible of the review’s findings will be available, in light of any privacy or enforcement-related considerations.”

Denis told reporters over the weekend that the public need to “have full confidence in law enforcement and also the oversight process.” “I’m not suggesting the officers did anything wrong,” he added. “Let’s just get all the information.” You can watch a video of what happened here. But be warned. It is awfully sad. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. 


Photo Colin Forster/YouTube

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Recovering newspaper reporter.

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