The decision to euthanize a cougar on the grounds of the South Health Campus in Calgary was a difficult one to make, and it was made in the interest of public safety. Large predators that enter an urban area can pose a significant public safety concern.
Officers would have liked to tranquilize the animal. However, tranquilizing cougars can be very risky, especially in a situation like this with the adrenaline in the cougar likely to cancel the effects of the tranquilizer. Even in normal circumstances, the drug doesn’t take effect immediately, and in a situation like today, it can make it worse—by making the cougar very agitated when hit by the dart. This, combined with the speed and agility of cougars, made it a high risk to the people nearby.
The cougar was right next to the hospital entrance, and officers had to act quickly to mitigate the public safety concern before the animal escaped. It is unfortunate it ended this way, and the officers had to make a very difficult choice with public safety as their first priority.
To ensure proper procedure and protocol was followed, Jonathan Denis, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General ordered a review into the incident.
The review found euthanizing the cougar was the appropriate action to ensure public safety, but steps must be taken to ensure the proper tools and tactics are used in all similar situations in the future.
Here are links to the review and appendices: