A cougar kitten, estimated to be about two months old, will be finding a new home at the Greater Vancouver Zoo. Angie Mindus photo

Cougar kitten rescued near Williams Lake

Conservation Officers find home for young kitten after mother struck by vehicle

A cougar kitten is getting a second lease on life after it was discovered hungry and frostbitten just outside of Williams Lake last weekend.

Sgt. Jeff Tyre of the Conservation Officer Service said the young animal was live-trapped in a subdivision just west of the city Saturday, Jan. 13, after it had been fending for itself for almost a month since its mother was struck and killed on Highway 20 near Chimney Valley Road Dec. 20.

“We suspected there were kittens around but we hadn’t had any reports,” Tyre said, noting he was alerted by a Facebook post that the kitten was in a backyard.

Officers contacted the homeowner and set up the trap, catching the kitten that evening.

Except for being dehydrated and having frostbitten ears from the extreme cold spells over Christmas, a veterinarian gave the kitten a clean bill of health and recommendations on feeding, while the officers got to work looking for alternatives.

“Putting him down was not an option, it wasn’t something we wanted to do. We’ve been exploring every option,” Tyre said, confirming Wednesday he and fellow conservation officer Ron LeBlanc will be transporting the young animal to the Greater Vancouver Zoo in Aldergrove Monday, where it will have a permanent home.

LeBlanc, who has been caring for the kitten at his own home at 150 Mile House, said he feels it is a privilege to be able to work with animals. Being able to make a difference is one of the biggest perks of his job.

“This is why I joined the COS, to help the animals and police the resources and when you get a little cat like this and you’re able to save it … we’re super happy about that,” said LeBlanc, who named the kitten Charles because “it sounded like royalty.”

Read more: Bella Coola sow grizzly destroyed, cub sent to Smithers rehab centre

Read more: Cougars exhibiting dangerous behaviours removed from remote community

Tyre said before they committed the kitten to the zoo, they weighed all their options.

He said the kitten is too young for release back into the wild.

“He doesn’t know how to fend for himself properly. He doesn’t have his mom to teach him how to feed or forage for food. So, given his age, we don’t feel he’s a good candidate for relocation.”

Rehabilitation also isn’t an option for the kitten, as there are no rehab facilities for wild cats in North America.

Living at a game facility or zoo was the animal’s best option.

“Sometimes you wonder if you should let nature take its course but nature wasn’t what hit his mother on the road that day so we will step in, it’s our responsibility. It’s humans that caused the mother’s fatality so we’re going to help the kitten out.”

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Sgt. Jeff Tyre and C.O. Ron LeBlanc of the Conservation Officer Service are pleased they found a home for an orphaned cougar kitten. Angie Mindus photo

The orphaned kitten found in the Cariboo last week was inspected by a veterinarian, who found the young animal was dehydrated and was suffering from frostbitten ears and a bite mark, possibly from a dog. (photo submitted)

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