Cougar euthanized after man intervenes in dog attack on Vancouver Island
Conservation officers say a cougar that is believed to have attacked a small dog in Port Alberni, B.C., was put down on Thursday.
The attack occurred along Timberlane Road on Wednesday evening, and conservation officers were out with tracking hounds on Thursday morning looking for the animal.
"With the warm weather and thick bush, the dogs lost the scent unfortunately," said Scott Norris, acting inspector with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service on Friday.
"But while we were still in the area we had some fresh sightings," he said. "The public called the RAPP line."
Norris says a cougar matching the description of Wednesday's incident was spotted crossing a highway close to where conservation officers already were.
"Officers were able to attend and got the cougar up a tree," said Norris.
"The cougar appeared to be injured at the time," he said. "It was euthanized."
The conservation officer says the next step is for the cougar to be looked over by a provincial veterinarian in a necropsy.
Other conservation officers were still in the area Friday with cameras and a trap set up, though Norris says he's "fairly confident" the right cougar was located, since it matched the description given to them and was found in the area.
No other cougar sightings have been reported as of Friday morning.
"We'll examine and see if there's a reason why the cougar was acting this way," he said.
Norris says sometimes young cougars who are struggling to learn to hunt sometimes come across feral cats and other small prey in urban areas.
"It's easier for them to get at," he said. "And that often brings them into conflict with people and in this case that's what happened."
"We had a dog in an urban area, the owner intervened and got injured in the process," said Norris.
'I KICK IT TWICE'
Mark Payne says he was letting his dog out around 9 p.m. when a cougar ambushed his Boston terrier, Alaska.
"When I looked over I saw this paw reach out right from underneath those bushes there and I was like, 'Alaska, what the hell?' So I get up and all of a sudden the cat just pounces on Alaska," he told CTV News on Friday.
Payne says he thought the cougar was initially a large house cat, but then he realized what was going on.
"[Alaska's] belly was facing up this way, and the cat was biting on her head," he said.
"I realize what's going on so I kick it twice in the ribs and then it kind of lets go of Alaska," said Payne.
The Port Alberni man says the cougar stood on its hind legs and swung its front paws at him before running away.
Payne says he only suffered minor scratches on the back of his calf. Alaska, however, fared worse.
"When we got her we put her on the hood of the car right away and started doing first aid, and all we had was gauze and duct tape," he said. "It was pretty insane, it could have been a lot worse."
Payne describes the entire encounter as "pretty intense."
"It's amazing what mankind will do to protect the ones they love, right?" he said.
Norris says that intervening in such attacks can save animals and people involved, though he notes that it does put people at risk.
"It's human instinct to rush in, it often works, but it does put that person in harms way as well," he said.
"Being aggressive and dominant with a cougar is very important," added Norris.
"Often just that dominance, that running, screaming and yelling at a cougar will break their concentration on what they're doing and they'll let go and leave."
PREVENTING ATTACKS ON PETS
Norris says that pet owners should be aware of their surroundings, particularly in rural areas.
"In a number of these incidents people have let their dogs out at night to pee, and a cougar is in the bushes and it pounces on their dog," he said.
He recommends turning outdoor lights on, looking around, and keeping an eye on pets in case they're acting strangely because that may be a sign that they have picked up on the sounds or scents of a predator nearby.
Norris also asks that people avoid feeding feral cats, since feral cats can draw the attention of cougars to communities.
More information and safety tips about cougars can be found on the B.C. Conservation Officer Service website, says Norris.
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