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City of Victoria employee fired for decapitating cougar shot by police

A tranquilized cougar in the back of a B.C. conservation officer truck in Langford, B.C., April 11, 2014. (CTV News) A tranquilized cougar in the back of a B.C. conservation officer truck in Langford, B.C., April 11, 2014. (CTV News)
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A City of Victoria employee has been fired for decapitating a cougar that was shot dead by police in British Columbia's capital.

A spokesperson for the city declined to say which department the employee worked for, but said the decapitation occurred after Victoria police delivered the dead animal to the city's public works yard for disposal last fall.

The wildcat had been prowling Victoria's inner city waterfront in the early morning hours of Nov. 21, prompting multiple warnings from police and conservation officers.

Approximately 12 hours later, the cougar was cornered and shot in a park in a high-density area close to a school and the Galloping Goose Regional Trail, a popular pedestrian and cycling corridor.

"The risk to public safety was determined to be high," the Victoria Police Department said in a statement after the animal was destroyed.

"Situations where police are required to dispatch an animal are extremely rare," the statement continued. "We understand that people may feel strongly about this animal and its well-being, and we can assure you that this decision was not made lightly."

This cougar was shot by Victoria police in a residential area of the city on Nov. 21, 2023. (VicPD)

Victoria spokesperson Colleen Mycroft declined to discuss how long the terminated employee had worked for the city, citing personal privacy reasons.

The city spokesperson also declined to say whether the internal investigation that ultimately led to the employee's firing examined why the worker removed the animal's head.

"The city has concluded its investigation process into this incident and we can confirm the individual responsible is no longer employed by the city," she said.

The B.C. Conservation Officer Service says the employee was served with a written warning under the B.C. Wildlife Act after the cougar's head was surrendered to the agency.

"The individual was co-operative throughout the investigation and expressed remorse for their actions," a spokesperson for the service said. "Conservation officers have discretion when issuing enforcement action, which can range from a written warning to initiating a court proceeding."

A B.C. SPCA spokesperson called the situation "unfortunate," but said the matter was outside of the organization's jurisdiction to respond to or make recommendations on.

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