British Columbia Cougar Eludes Capture
British Columbia provincial conservation officers are now on standby after unsuccessful attempts to track down a cougar that attacked an 18-month-old toddler last Monday. Ground dogs are no longer able to track its scent, the Westerly News reported.
“We were unable to pick up any fresh sign from the cougar in the area, so the dogs had essentially nothing to work with,” said Renne Wissink from Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.
However parks staff continues their search efforts on the ground.
“We still have our staff moving through the area,” said Arlene Armstrong, spokesperson for PRNPR. Armstrong said should they find any fresh signs in the area, officers will be brought back.
The park began spearheading search efforts in conjunction with four conservation officers, a volunteer houndsman and dogs Aug. 29 following the attack, which happened at Swim Beach, Kennedy Lake within the park.
Wissink said by park staff are checking snares and remote cameras in the area twice daily. A portion of the beach has also been raked smooth in order to observe any tracks.
“We’ll maintain this level of monitoring right through the long weekend, then we’ll reassess next week,” said Wissink. In the case of an animal capture, the park says evidence collected from the attack, including four cougar hairs and track marks that have been cast in plaster, will be adopted to ensure the animal is positively identified.
Meanwhile 18-month-old Julien Sylvester continues to recover at BC Children’s Hospital following Monday’s attack, but his mother says he is doing well. “He’s doing great,” she told the Westerly by phone September 1 over the commotion of her son’s playful shouts and waves to passersby in the hospital. “He’s moving around quite a bit.”
Julien was with his 4-year-old sister, Iris, their grandfather and a family friend when the cougar leapt out of the bush and bit Julien in the head, causing injuries including two skull fractures, followed by brain surgery after he was airlifted to hospital.
Doctors are still monitoring Julien to ensure the cougar bites do not cause infection, but the boy remains in stable condition. In addition to the closure of the Kennedy Lake day use area, adjacent BC Parks lands have been closed to public access.