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Cougar bites woman in Vancouver Island's Strathcona Park

Two hikers encountered cougar near remote lake in Strathcona Provincial Park
(Pixabay photo)

Two women were attacked by a cougar in Vancouver Island's Strathcona Park last weekend, an incident that ended with one woman in hospital with minor injuries.

According to the B.C. Conservation officer Service, the two women were hiking with off-leash dogs near Landslide lake. The lake is located in a remote part of the park, accessed through the Elk River trailhead between Gold River and Campbell River. During their hike, a cougar attacked one of the dogs and bit one of the women.

The hikers used bear spray to fend the cougar off. The animal ran away after the bear spray was deployed. The hikers and dogs were rescued by helicopter. A release from the conservation officer service says that one woman received medal attention in hospital for non-life threatening injuries, and the dog is expected to recover.

"The COS investigation determined this was a defensive attack, and no further action will be taken," the statement says.

Prior to the attack, BC Parks had posted signage warning people of cougar sightings and activity in the area. Since the incident, the trail has been closed and more signage has been added.

According to information posted on the BCCOS website, anyone encountering a cougar should "Stay calm and keep the cougar in view, pick up children immediately. Children frighten easily and the noise and movements they make could provoke an attack. Back away slowly, ensuring that the animal has a clear avenue of escape.

"Make yourself look as large as possible and keep the cougar in front of you at all times. Never run or turn your back on a cougar, sudden movement may provoke an attack. If a cougar shows interest or follows you, respond aggressively, maintain eye contact with the cougar, show your teeth and make loud noise. Arm yourself with rocks or sticks as weapons. If a cougar attacks, fight back, convince the cougar you are a threat and not prey, use anything you can as a weapon.  Focus your attack on the cougar's face and eyes. Use rocks, sticks, bear spray or personal belongings as weapons. You are trying to convince the cougar that you are a threat, and are not prey."

People are asked to contact the COS Call Centre 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP) if a cougar poses an immediate threat or danger to public safety.

Marc Kitteringham

About the Author: Marc Kitteringham

I joined Black press in early 2020, writing about the environment, housing, local government and more.
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