Wildlife officers shoot cougar at Calgary hospital

Thu Sep 18, 2014 1:52pm EDT
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By Nia Williams

CALGARY Alberta (Reuters) - Wildlife officers shot and killed a cougar on the grounds of a hospital in the city of Calgary, Alberta, on Thursday, a spokesman for Fish and Wildlife enforcement said.

Police initially received reports of two cougars near the South Health Campus hospital in south-east Calgary at around 7:30 a.m. local time. However, Calgary Police said they were able to verify the presence of only one animal.

The cougar was first spotted in the stairwell of a hotel under construction opposite the hospital before it crossed the street and settled down in a large planter area filled with bushes, plants and long grass next to the hospital.

It was not acting aggressively, but access to that part of the hospital was restricted for public safety and patients and members of staff were directed to use different entrances. A road in front of that part of the hospital was closed.

Fish and Wildlife enforcement spokesman Brendan Cox said officers had initially hoped to tranquilize the cougar and remove it.

However, he said concerns that might agitate the cougar and increase the risk of it attacking someone prompted officers to make the "unfortunate and difficult" decision to kill the animal.

"It's a public safety concern when you have a large predator like that in a populated area," Cox said.

"Even if you do get it with a tranquilizer dart, that will agitate the animal and before the drug takes effect, there's a high chance it will be able to escape - they are very quick and agile - and make its way toward a more populated area."   Continued...