Dog owners should take precautions following another in a series of cougar attacks in the Sooke and Metchosin areas, wildlife officials say.
The BC Conservation Officer service has confirmed that the latest attack took place near Mount Quimper Sea to Sea Regional Park Monday morning at around 10 a.m.
The dog was reportedly ahead of its owner off-leash when a cougar pounced on it and attempted to drag it off the trail, according to BCCOS.
The owner distracted the animal and it let go of the dog. The incident was reported to BCCOS later that night. The dog suffered injuries but is expected to make a full recovery.
Authorities say it’s part of an “unusual cluster” of similar incidents over the past month in which cougars have attacked large dogs, but cannot say if all incidents involve the same animal.
BCCOS confirmed three other attacks March 31, including one in which a dog was killed in Metchosin, where two cougars were spotted.
“This is something new, cougars generally don’t cause problems here,” says John Rann, the Mayor of Metchosin. Adding, “Residents have got young children who like to play in the backyard. I mean, we live in a rural area and when you have something like a cougar demonstrating that kind of behavior, it becomes a much more serious issue.”
The Conservation Officer Service says it is not uncommon for cougars to consider roaming dogs prey, but it is particularly concerned about the cougars’ repeated behaviour during daylight hours.
Dog owners in the region are asked to stay aware of their surroundings and take precautions like keeping their dogs on leashes or under close supervision.
If you’re confronted by a cougar, BCCOS recommends you stay calm, pick up any children immediately and back away slowly, making sure the animal has a clear path to escape. Make yourself look as large as possible and never turn your back or run as sudden movement can provoke an attack.
Anyone who spots an aggressive cougar is asked to report it to the province’s RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277.