A cougar that was on the prowl near the South Health Campus in southeast Calgary has been shot dead by Fish and Wildlife officers after attempts to tranquilize it failed.

The animal was spotted near the hospital’s south entrance shortly before 8:00 a.m. Thursday.

Calgary police cordoned off a large area outside the facility and fire crews kept an eye on the cat using ladder trucks.

Fish and Wildlife officers were on the ground and took the cougar down just after 11:00 a.m.

The incident shocked and saddened some people who were in the area.

“Just seeing an animal shot like that, its heartbreaking, on their behalf we have to keep people safe right?,” said Shannon Andersen.

“This was completely unnecessary. Like I said, no animal like that, especially when they’re non-threatening, he’s just sleeping. There was no reason for that to happen, they could’ve easily tranquilized him,” said Jennifer Milton.

“To watch that happen is just so incredibly devastating and I’m so sorry that that had to happen to that animal because it wasn’t doing anything to deserve it. It was in the wrong place at the wrong time but that doesn’t mean that you have to kill it,” said Val Crebo.

Alberta Justice and Solicitor General issued a statement on its website saying...

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.