A Comox Valley teen was left shaken and bruised after he was stalked and then chased by a cougar in the Comox Valley, according to his mom.
“It was five feet away from him making crazy sounds. Ears back, screaming sounded like a crying or laughing baby,” Mandy Poje wrote to Facebook following the incident that happened around 9:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 13, near the Comox Marina.
“He ran, he fell, he ran, he fell, he ran and fell again. Messed up his leg, hand and arm,” said Poje, recalling the story her son, Roman, frantically relayed to her later that night.
She says Roman, 18, was drawing on the beach behind St. Joseph’s Hospital near Manor Drive when the cougar suddenly appeared. The teen often hangs out at the beach, but he’d never seen a cat like this there before.
“He’s absolutely shaken,” said Poje at the time.
“…he [Roman] ran like hell and it lunged at him slapping its feet on the ground at him. Thank goodness Roman is an athlete and was able to outrun the cougar, as fast as he could up through someone’s yard and up the road and got away.”
The BC Conservation Officer Service (COS), however, says to never run and instead make yourself look as large as possible, keeping the cougar in front of you at all times.
“Never run or turn your back on a cougar, sudden movement may provoke an attack,” the COS says on its website.
“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.”
Roman plays for the Comox Valley Raiders football team, according to Poje, who in an update Wednesday said her son was doing OK.
“He is fine … he missed a day of work as he really hurt his arm when he fell, he is not as shaken up now…” she told CHEK News. “Someone asked if his leg was bitten off. Lol. It’s all getting kind of silly at this point.”
On Sunday night, Poje reported the incident to the COS.
In an emailed statement to CHEK News Wednesday, the COS says conservation officers are still investigating the matter and have attempted to contact the complainant.
“Nothing in the report indicates there was contact between the cougar and the complainant,” reads the statement.
The COS says Comox has a “very healthy” deer population, and where there are deer there are likely to be cougars. Van Island Hunters says cougars are the most prominent cat species in B.C. with as many as 800 living on the Island.
“The public is asked to familiarize themselves with safety tips to help prevent wildlife encounters, including travelling in groups, carrying bear spray and leashing pets,” added the COS.
Roman is now following these tips, according to Poje. She says her Facebook post, which has since been deleted, was posted publicly to spread awareness and inform people about the unexpected cougar experience.
“He will go back to the marina. He just won’t walk as far down the beach in the dark by himself again and maybe be more aware of his surroundings,” said Poje.
“…because we have never had this discussion on what to do if confronted by a cougar, I feel it’s a good time to post this for awareness,” she added.
“Stay safe. Stay alert.”
The COS can be reached at 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP), and more safety tips can be found online here.