Kim Stewart was picking flowers in a Duncan park when she experienced what she called the scariest moment of her life.
It happened Friday at midnight. The nightshift worker was working out with friend Rebecca Tallis on the outdoor exercise circuit at the Cowichan Sportsplex grounds when she decided to pick some lilacs from a bush overhanging the grounds’ fence.
That’s when a wild animal she believes was a small cougar jumped out, growled and lashed its paw at her.
“I went to go pick it, and then I saw the paw and the face,” said Stewart, a Duncan resident. “I’ll never forget the teeth.”
“It scared the heck out of me. I heard her scream and watched her get pulled into the fence,” said Tallis.
“I physically saw a big meaty paw sitting up on the side, his teeth and one eye,” said Stewart.
“Whatever it was, and again we believe it was a small cougar, not a large one, but it was hungry or orphaned or something and as soon as I snapped that branch that was it, it was so fast,” she said.
The BC Conservation Officer Service investigated, but without more than Stewart’s wounds to go on, suspected it was likely a raccoon attack.
While that may seem a silly species to confuse a cougar with, conservation officers told CHEK News it has happened in several cases before. Especially in the dark, because of raccoons’ aggressive and surprisingly deep growls — and willingness to take on something much bigger than them.
Staff at the Cowichan Sportsplex also wonder if it could have been a dog.
“At the end of the day people need to be vigilant, but if we don’t know what we’re dealing with, we may not want to make any assumptions,” said Cowichan Sportsplex executive director Drew Cooper.
“I don’t know, maybe she’s right. I’m not saying she’s lying,” said Cowichan Sportsplex groundskeeper Ahmed Azzihe.
But Stewart insists she knows what she saw.
“I’d never seen anything like that before or happen like that before, so it was a fluke thing,” said Stewart.
In the meantime, the still healing Duncan mother will be getting a rabies shot Tuesday, to protect her from whatever it is that attacked her.