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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Three cougars have been killed near the Western Canadian town Princeton, British Columbia, this month while apparently stalking human prey, police said on Tuesday.
Police said that wildlife officers consider the cougars "killer cats" because they were young, hungry animals that had lost their fear of humans.
In one attempted attack, a Princeton resident spotted a cougar stalking two young children who were swimming in a river, but was able to shoot the cat before it pounced, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said.
"Given the young age of the children the chances of surviving the pending attack would not have been great," police said in a statement.
Another cougar was killed while prowling in a campground and another near a park swimming pool, where children were playing.
Princeton is a rural community in the mountains about three hours drive east of Vancouver.
Wildlife experts say that cougars seem to be attracted to young children, possibly by their high-pitched voices and erratic movements, and that the cats may confuse them with the wildlife prey they normally seek.
A two-year-old girl escaped with only minor injuries last month after her mother was able to beat away a cougar that had pounced on the child in Squamish, British Columbia, north of Vancouver.
Reporting Allan Dowd, editing by Peter Galloway