Cougar attack near Nanaimo leaves family shaken and warning others

Cougar attack near Nanaimo leaves family shaken and warning others
WatchA Nanaimo mother is shaken and is warning others after a terrifying cougar attack along the Nanaimo River. It happened last Saturday and has left their family dog dead. Conservation Officers are searching for the cat and urging people to stay away from the area. Skye Ryan reports.

Courtney Gould is keeping her kids and dogs close to home. The family is walking in their Nanaimo backyard after a terrifying cougar attack that’s left them awake at night and grieving the loss of their pet chihuahua Locos.

“It was traumatizing,” said Gould.

“I thought like, literally when I’d seen that, I have never felt something so terrifying before,” she said about the attack.

The attack happened next to the Jump Creek Bridge over the Nanaimo River on Saturday evening.

The bridge is a remote spot, about 15 minutes out of Nanaimo but it’s popular with dog walkers and cyclists.

The family and friends had enjoyed the day in the sun and were planning to camp. Gould’s daughters were walking when their little dog Locos began growling and barking. A cougar then jumped out on him. The five-pound (2.2 kilograms) dog cried and the girls ran.

Gould said she’s certain Locos saved her daughters from the attack.

“That would have been my kids,” said Gould.

“I got scared,” said 11-year-old Neveah Blake, one of Gould’s daughters.

“I didn’t know where he was.”

“He was there that day to protect my daughter,” said Gould.

Locos died the next day after emergency vet care.

It turns out the same cougar had attacked another dog earlier in the same area, but there were no signs up yet to warn anyone.  Walker Bob Martel did not get out of his car with his small dog on Thursday after CHEK told him about the attack.

“Now I think I’ve changed my mind,” said Martel.

Gould said it’s important for everyone in the area to be careful.

“Anything can happen in the bush,” she said.

Conservation officers continued to search for the cougar and put up warning signs later on Thursday.

“People on Vancouver Island should always be aware,” said BC Conservation Service Officer Stu Bates.

“That anytime you’re in the wilderness area, there’s always bears and cougars in the area,” he said.

Cougar attacks are extremely rare on Vancouver Island, but conservation officers said there are some tips people can remember to be safe. 

“Number one, don’t scream,” said Bates.

“High pitch squeal sounds like a wounded deer, or a wounded rabbit, so don’t scream. Don’t run because it’s like a cat chasing a ball. Make yourself look big.”

Officials also urge people to keep dogs on a leash at all times in the woods.

It’s advice that comes too late for Gould’s family, but she said she hopes their story may help someone else.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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