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This is a very cool study that has come out of work done in Pacific Rim National Park, including the Long Beach unit. In this area, raccoon are the top prey item of cougars, not deer as one might suspect (and as gardeners in Ucluelet would surely hope).

From the article:

When researchers in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve started collecting cougar scat samples, they expected the analysis to show a diet primarily of black-tailed deer.

But they were taken aback to learn that deer comprised only a quarter of the cougars’ diet in the park, and that an unlikely smattering of other animals — notably harbour seals and even sea lions — comprised the remainder.

“What’s surprising to me is that deer is not the primary prey species,” Danielle Thompson, park resource management specialist, said in an interview. “It’s a secondary prey item and raccoons are actually No. 1.”

The research is considered the first scientific documentation of cougars exploiting marine mammals in North America.

Cougars are part of the landscape at Long Beach, on the west coast and on Vancouver Island. Rather than be frightened of the fact, just be prepared. Forewarned is forearmed. (Well, not literally, just be prepared.) Educate yourself and keep young children close. And, as a friend once said, the only thing worse than an unexpected run in with a cougar, is worrying about an unexpected run in with a cougar. For those who might find this unsettling, be assured that cougar encounters are rare. In almost 50 years of living on and exploring Vancouver Island, I’ve never seen a cougar. I’d really like to though. (On my terms thank you very much.)