Cougar Wanders into Downtown Building in Canada

Reuters 16-SEP-98

VICTORIA, British Columbia, Sept 16 (Reuters)- Authorities hope to return a cougar to the wilderness after the big cat was discovered wandering on Wednesday inside a downtown building in British Columbia's capital city.

"It scared the crap out of me," said Craig Grebicki, an employee of Scott Plastics, who managed to trap the cougar in a room by throwing a chair against a door.

Conservation officers shot the cat with a tranquilliser dart and captured it without incident. It was unclear what prompted the cat, a three-year-old female, to enter the building, but officers described it as "extremely malnourished."

"She walked in right by one of our sales reps. He just saw the tail and at first he thought it was a dog," said Sheila Simpson, a company employee.

There have been a half-dozen cougar sightings in Victoria in the past three days, but authorities said the reports have come from a wide area so they do not know if this is the only big cat wandering around the city.

British Columbia has had a very dry summer this year, making it difficult for animals including cougars and bears to find enough food in the wild. A cougar was also recently captured prowling in a park in a Vancouver suburb.

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