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Woman and her dogs followed by cougar in Thetis Lake park

The walker called West Shore RCMP to tell them "a cougar popped out along the trail and followed her."
A file photo of a cougar. VIA RCMP

A woman and her dogs were followed by a cougar while walking in Thetis Lake Regional Park in View Royal on Tuesday.

The walker called West Shore RCMP shortly after 7 p.m. to tell them “a cougar popped out along the trail and followed her.” Police said the woman remained calm, made lots of noise and safely returned to her vehicle.

RCMP officers went to the park but couldn’t find the cougar. The B.C. Conservation Service has been notified.

The sighting comes after a young cougar attacked a boy near Rocky Mountain House in Alberta, a story in the Edmonton Journal said. The cat let go of the boy after a nearby person threw a rock at it.

The child was taken to hospital and is in stable condition, it said. That cougar has been killed.

West Shore RCMP offered these safety tips:

• Hike in groups of two or more.

• Carry a sturdy walking stick for defence.

• Make noise so that you don’t surprise a cougar or other wildlife.

• Keep children close to you.

• Watch for cougar tracks and signs.

• Cougars cover unconsumed prey with soil and leaf litter. Stay away if you see one.

• If you see cougar kittens do not approach or try to pick one up.

If you meet a cougar:

• Do not approach it.

• Give it an avenue of escape.

• Stay calm and speak in a confident voice.

• Pick up children immediately.

• Do not run, try to back away slowly.

• Sudden movement or flight could trigger an attack.

• Make yourself as large as possible.

• Do not crouch or try to hide.

• Pick up sticks or branches and wave them about.

• If a cougar is aggressive, arm yourself with a large stick, throw rocks, speak loudly and firmly to convince the cougar that you are a threat, not prey.

• If a cougar attacks, fight back. many people have survived attacks by fighting back with everything from sticks to rocks to fists.

If you see a cougar near an urban area, or have a wildlife safety concern, call the B.C. Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277. Call 911 in an emergency situation where the animal poses an immediate risk to human safety.

More information on cougars is available on the province’s website.