WATCH: A cougar believed to be the same one spotted recently on Newcastle Island is dead. Early this morning a Nanaimo man says he was frightened for his life when he came face to face with the big cat at a marina. When police arrived, they felt they had no choice but to shoot the cougar and kill it.
Kendall Hanson reports and a warning some viewers may find some of the images in this story disturbing.
It was something Ken Clark never expected to see on the Nanaimo Yacht Club’s dock. A cougar standing just a few meters away.
“Well as soon as I saw it I was freaking out,” said Clark.
It was 1:30 Wednesday morning. Fearing for his life Clark, grabbed a potential weapon and immediately called 9-1-1.
“And they showed up with about five cruisers in three minutes and guns are drawn,” said Clark. “He (the police officer) said ‘Come over here and open the gate’ because he couldn’t get in. And I said ‘I got to go from here to there please draw your gun on me because I’d rather take the chance of being shot than face death by a cougar.”
Police searched the area and eventually spotted the big cat farther down the dock. the officers then shot it.
“Obviously, it’s a sad outcome,” said Stuart Bates, a BC Conservation Officer. “The RCMP, as well as conservation officers, are there to protect humans first. The RCMP that attended determined that the cougar was showing human habituation, so a lack of fear of people, and it was in close proximity to people and it was actually approaching buildings and other structures such as boats with people in them.”
This morning conservation officers recovered the cougar’s carcass. The animal was about two years old and appeared to be healthy.
“This is most likely the cougar from Newcastle Island. I mean it’s literally 100 yards away,” said Bates. “So we’ll go over and check our cameras and traps over there just to make sure.”
Clark says police handled the situation as well as they could have and he’s glad he didn’t have a much more serious run-in with the cougar.
“Today I’m just like completely euphoric,” said Clark. “Like it’s a good day to be alive today.”
Conservation says giving them tips about cougar sightings is key as they can proactively take steps to try and avoid an outcome like this one.