Monkey sighting reported as conservation searches for Campbell River cougar
BC Conservation Service officers and the RCMP spent Thursday night and Friday morning searching for a cougar that has so far managed to elude them, but there's also rumours of a more unusual animal prowling Campbell River streets.
Officials say the cougar was spotted near the recycling bins in the Campbell River Sportsplex parking lot Friday morning as well as along the trail system Thursday night.
"It's a high-use area," Conservation Officer Gord Gudbranson told CTV News on Friday. "A lot of people walk their dogs, ride their bikes, use it to go to and from different places so in the interest of public safety we wanted to search for this cougar."
The conservation service received second-hand information about a man in a wheelchair and woman coming in close proximity to the cougar Thursday evening.
"Apparently this person on the wheelchair was followed for a little ways by this cougar so we responded to that as well yesterday but didn't have any luck locating it," Gudbranson said.
But cougars and bears don't appear to be the only animals roaming the Campbell River area.
Staff at Beeline Taxi posted on social media that one of their drivers reported a monkey running in front of his vehicle when he was driving along Hilchey Road 2:30 a.m. Friday.
Mary Allin is the midnight dispatcher for the taxi firm and said the driver radioed in "the monkey just ran in front of the car."
After analyzing the situation further, Allin verified that the driver saw what he believes was a capuchin monkey.
"It wasn't running the correct way, it looked at him and he saw a beige monkey with a brown face," Allin said.
The company posted the encounter in a lost pets forum in the hopes someone who may be missing the monkey would know where it was last spotted.
The staff are concerned about where the monkey has ended up and what its health status is.
Veterinarian Dr. Ken Langelier of Nanaimo's Island Animal Hospital believes given the warm temperature, the primate will do fine.
"They're fairly intelligent and they're non-human primates and depending on which species, there are things like berries that they can forage upon," said Langelier. "So it could do okay outside but it certainly wouldn't in the winter months or when there's less food available."
Langelier said monkeys are regulated by the Ministry of Environment and there are people grandfathered in who can continue to have them. If you don't already own a primate, you're out of luck.
As for anyone spotting the monkey and trying to catch it, Langelier offers a warning.
"I would stay away from it not knowing which species it is and circumstances, they can carry diseases that are transmittable to people," he said.
He recommended calling the Environment Ministry's Report All Poachers and Polluters line at 1-877-952-7277