Remember the cheetah that was on the loose in B.C.’s West Kootenay region last December? Charges have now been laid against the animal’s owners.
Featured Photo: Earl Pfeifer and Carol Plato with their cheetahs Robin and Annie Rose. Earl & Carol received one count of possessing an alien species without a permit.
Samantha Istance was driving along Highway 3A between Kootenay Bay and Crawford Bay back in December 2015 when she spotted the big cat on the side of the road and took a couple of photographs. At the time she was hoping the exotic cat will be captured safely, and not shot. Neither happened.
Other Residents of Crawford Bay BC also spotted the adult cheetah on the loose wandering around Highway 3A.
Children at nearby schools were kept indoors and residents were warned to remain vigilant while outside.
RCMP began searching for the big cat, but the hunt was called off after no further sightings were reported. The Conservation Officer Service could not determine whether the cheetah was still at large or not.
Now, just over a year later, two people have been charged under the Controlled Alien Species Regulation.
Earl Pfeifer and Carol Plato both received one count of possessing an alien species without a permit. ( i.e.: any animal that isn’t native to B.C. )They will make their first appearance in court on Feb. 17, 2017.
There is no word on whether the cheetah was ever found.
Cheetahs need permits
In B.C., cheetahs are considered a “controlled alien species” and require a permit under the Wildlife Act.
The only permit to possess a cheetah in the whole province is held by a zoo in the Vancouver area, according to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations — making it unlikely this cheetah is legally in the province.
Someone in the Kootenay region has applied to possess a cheetah, but that application is currently under review by the ministry, and staff said in a statement there is “no indication or information as to whether the cheetah is on the loose or could be related to the above permit application.”
B.C. residents who do not obtain a permit for their exotic animal can be fined up to $250,000 and face a maximum of two years in prison, and the animal could be seized, under provincial law.
Anyone who catches a glimpse of the cat is asked to steer clear and call 911, or contact the B.C. Conservation Service at (877) 952-7277.
Meanwhile the woman who spotted it, hopes things work out for the best for the big cat.
“I hope the poor thing survives. I hope this whole incident does not lead to it being shot,” said Istance.