Skateboard Aids Banff Man in Cougar Fight

May 28, 2013 by · Comments Off on Skateboard Aids Banff Man in Cougar Fight 

Parks Canada officials are advising people in Banff National Park in Alberta to be on alert after a man told them he fought off an attacking cougar with his skateboard.

Bill Hunt, the resource conservation manager for the Banff field unit, said the man was attacked Thursday (May 23) and originally reported the incident anonymously, CTV News reported.

But Hunt said officials tracked him down to get more information in order to find the cougar.

“I think he was reluctant to contact us right away because he’d be in trouble for striking an animal inside a national park. But of course, in that situation you’re in defense mode and it’s totally appropriate,” Hunt explained Sunday.

Hunt said the man told them he was listening to music through earbuds while walking between the townsite and an industrial area when the cougar attacked.

“He was hit from behind, knocked to the ground and instantly reacted properly. With a cougar, the correct thing to do is fight back hard and convince that cougar that you’re not going to be available for prey,” Hunt said.

“He was carrying his skateboard, so he used that skateboard in defence of himself and was able to hit the cougar with it, which stunned the animal and he was able to get away.”

Remarkably, Hunt said the man wasn’t injured. He said the man was fit and young, and was fairly tall, which he said probably worked in his favor.

Hunt said officials are tracking the cougar and hope to capture it.

“Right now we’re kind of in a heightened state of alert,” he said.

A wildlife bulletin issued by Parks Canada says there has also been a report of a cougar chasing a deer in the Banff townsite.

Park officials are restricting access to an area north of the townsite where the attack occurred and say violators risk a fine of up to $5,000.

A Canmore woman was killed by a cougar in 2001 while she was cross-country skiing near Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park.

Cougars are normally very wary and selective of their prey, Hunt said, living on deer, elk and other animals. He explained that one might take exceptional risks by coming closer to people if it had experienced a difficult winter.

Hunt said park officials aren’t sure if it’s one cougar or more, yet. Scat that’s been collected will be analysed for DNA evidence, he said. Cameras are being set up on bridges and he said hounds are also being used.

If it’s caught, Hunt said it may have to be destroyed.

“No decisions have been made yet. But If we’re certain it’s the same animal that attacked this gentleman then it’s definitely a candidate for destruction, just because that’s such unusual behaviour for a cougar, it’s a difficult thing to risk that recurring,” he said.

Hunt said if they catch an animal and it isn’t the one that attacked the man, it may be released elsewhere, although he said it’s difficult to find a safe place to release a cougar.

Parks Canada says people should travel in groups and keep a careful eye on children to avoid cougar encounters. People should also avoid travelling during dawn and dusk, and pets should be kept on leashes, officials say.

Carrying bear spray, making noise, and leaving the area if an animal carcass is discovered are other tips that Parks Canada says should be followed.

Listening to music is not a good idea, Hunt said.



Rangers Kill Threatening Cougar in Vancouver Park

September 6, 2011 by · Comments Off on Rangers Kill Threatening Cougar in Vancouver Park 

Canadian conservation officers shot and killed a cougar in Goldstream Provincial Park Monday morning (Sept. 5), after the animal had been hanging around an area dangerously close to campsites for three days, the Vancouver Sun reported.

The 18-month-old female cougar was first spotted Saturday night, said conservation officer Peter Pauwels, at the back end of the campground between campsite 76 and the Upper Goldstream Trail, which runs adjacent to the river.

“There were lot of little kids there and it’s summer and a long weekend, the campground was completely full,” he said. “It was a dangerous situation.”

The cougar was seen several times on Sunday in the exact same spot, and was not scared off when people threw rocks at it, Pauwels said.

“It was very unafraid of people which is unusual for young cougars. Normally we expect them to leave.”

Conservation officers arrived on scene Sunday at 11 p.m. but Pauwels said he could not get a clear shot of the cat. Monday morning around 6:30 a.m., conservation officers brought in hounds to try and scare the cougar up a tree so a tranquilizer gun could be used, but this was unsuccessful, Pauwels said.

The tranquilizer takes five to 10 minutes to kick in and it is unsafe to shoot an animal in an area where it can run away, he said.

Pauwels added this cougar would not be a good candidate for relocation because it was young and not scared of people.

Signs were put up Sunday warning people of the cougar and Pauwels said campers were very concerned, given the recent cougar attack on a toddler at Pacific Rim National Park.

Eighteen-month-old Julien Sylvester is recovering in B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver after a young cougar pounced on him and sank its teeth into his skull on Aug. 29, while his Ucluelet family was visiting Kennedy Lake.

That cougar has not yet been caught.

“Definitely people are more aware and people are a little worried about [cougars] right now, more so than they normally would be,” Pauwels said. “But we would have done the exact same thing regardless of what happened in Ucluelet.”

He said campers he spoke with Monday morning were relieved the cougar was no longer a threat.

British Columbia Cougar Eludes Capture

September 2, 2011 by · Comments Off on 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.