Dear Editor:

This is a detailed response to Mr. Stephen Lebovits letter to the editor in the February 6th Pioneer, Killing Cougars is not Conservation.

We are the Invermere residents under whose deck the cougar met its untimely demise. This cougar had been in the CastleRock area for a number of weeks. Sightings occurred daily, with pictures taken and tracks everywhere. We were a community on high alert!

On the morning of January 22nd, I called the conservation officers to our home as I had just seen the cougar.

They did NOT, at any point, arrive with guns loaded ready to kill!

In fact, their first and foremost concern was for the welfare of the cougar and how to quickly and safely remove it from under our deck. In addition, they took the time to explain the new cougar collaring and tracking program.The officers indicated to us that their first plan of action was to try and persuade the cougar to leave its hiding place under our deck. This was going to be achieved by stomping on the deck above it. Once out, then the trained dogs would tree the cat. It would then be tranquilized and collared, released and monitored.

Unfortunately, the cougar seemed unbothered by the noise and human presence. One of the officers observed the cat to be blind in one eye with an additionalinjury above the eye. Then and only then was the decision made to put the cougar down! A time lapse of over two hours!

Hats off to all the officers involved, as they took the time to answer the question many in our neighbourhood wanted to know the answer to: why not tranquilize and relocate? Their answer: In the Kootenay valley, we have a healthy cougar population. By tranquilizing and relocating a cougar from one area to another, this would lead to the eventual death of either the newly introduced cougar or the defending cougar, as they are territorial!

My husband and I feel extreme SORROW that such a magnificent animal had to lose its life, by mans hand, but given that particular cougars behaviour and the circumstances, we do feel the right decision was made! These officers acted with extreme caring, sensitivity and the utmost professionalism! They should be thanked, not criticized!

Janel and Mark Seier