Cougar complaints are up across Vancouver Island, as more people report seeing the big cats and more of the animals are being shot dead.

The issue is top of mind this week for many islanders, and has come to the attention of the international news media, as reports of a harrowing cougar attack on a Lake Cowichan boy have garnered headlines in USA Today, the U.K.’s Daily Mail, Good Morning America, the New York Daily News and Inside Edition.

“It piques an interest,” said Chelsea Lockhart, the Lake Cowichan mother who pried the attacking cougar off her seven-year-old son Zachery on Friday. “A lot of people have kids and it just hits home.”

In 2015, a cougar caused a stir after it turned up near a daycare in Victoria’s James Bay neighbourhood.

Much like the recent Lake Cowichan attack, the cougar in this instance was a young cat looking for food and new territory.

Conservation officers on the island say calls for problem cougars are up over the past year. And so is the number of big cats the officers have had to kill.

Last year, five people in B.C. were hurt in run-ins with cougars, the highest number of attacks in the last decade. But conservation officers say there’s no clear reason why.

“Kitten survival could be high in any given year and food availability is scarce and territory is scarce, which then potentially leads to conflict,” said island conservation officer Scott Norris.

More than 1,000 cougars, also known as mountain lions, live on Vancouver Island. Authorities advise anyone who encounters a cougar to be assertive and, if necessary, to fight.