Cougar killing and maiming pets has Port Hardy residents on edge
People living on the North Island remain on high alert following a series of cougar attacks on their pets – some of them fatal.
Sandra Masales says her three-year-old dog Ginger was attacked by a cougar near Port Hardy on Dec. 30, leaving the pet with bloody gashes across her face.
"I thought we were going to lose her," said Masales. "She was pretty covered with blood, her whole head, and very dazed, very in shock."
She said Ginger, an Airedale terrier, suffered crushed bones in her nose and will have ongoing issues with breathing but should otherwise make a full recovery.
Neighbour Kathy O'Reilly said she and her brother witnessed the cougar trying to carry Ginger away in its mouth.
There have been other reports all over town of the big cat prowling around on properties.
"It's been sighted in people's backyards and last night it approached a guy who was walking his dog, but he kind of spooked it off," she said. "So it seems to be coming closer into town."
About an hour after that attack, a cougar – possibly the same one – killed a two-and-a-half year old boxer-pitbull cross not far from where Masales's dog was pounced on.
Another Port Hardy resident, Alicia Dufferin, says she believes the same predator may have attacked her dog.
"I think he picked up the scent of it and chased it until it probably turned back and got him," she said.
The dog suffered a wound to one of its legs but is otherwise okay.
Several residents in the area have reported their cats disappearing – and many say they're now keeping a closer eye on their pets.
"I think people are pretty nervous, not only about their pets but about their children," said Masales. "Because a 70-pound dog, a cougar could easily pick up a child, so you know there's that concern as well."
The BC Conservation Officer Service has so far been unable to track down the cougar, or cougars, but were continuing the investigation in Port Hardy Wednesday night.
Vancouver Island is home to the highest concentration of cougars in the world, according to wildlife researchers at the University of Victoria.
Nearly a quarter of B.C.'s approximately 3,500 cougars are estimated to be living on the island.