A cat in Gold River was put down on Monday after an early morning cougar attack.
Rick Boyle was outside his house at around 4 a.m. with two dogs while Laura Boyle was inside. Their cat, who was an indoor cat, snuck outside.
Laura said Rick was in the process of getting the cat when a cougar came up from behind and attacked her. Rick fought off the cougar. The cougar then chased after one of the dog’s going into the house. Rick then went into the house and fought the cougar off with a broom until it fled.
The cat was badly injured and had to be put down. The dog had two puncture wounds but is recovering. Laura said the BC Conservation Officer Service was notified but were not dispatched to that call.
Black Creek Conservation Officer James Hilgemann said there have been three cougars spotted throughout the village: a mother and her kitten and another adult estimated to be around 120 pounds (54 kilograms).
At 5:30 a.m., a person out walking a dog saw a feral cat bolt out from under a car. A cougar was reported in watching the cat and dog but was not aggressive.
There was another report of a cougar sighting Monday afternoon. A homeowner was doing yardwork when he saw a cougar lying in the conrer watching him.
A BC Conservation Officer was using dogs to look for that couga while RCMP kept residents out of the area. Alyshia Larsen, Laura and Rick’s daughter, said the cougar was shot in a yard. On Tuesday, the BC Conservation Officer Service confirmed it was a younger male cougar, approximately one-years-old, that was shot.
Hilgemann said an elderly woman reported teenagers chasing the female cougar and its baby on Friday night. The pair did leave the area.
If a cougar is found, it will be put down as it has become too habituated to a populated area. Hilgemann said there have probably been other sightings that have been shared on social media but not reported to the BC Conservation Officer Service.
“There’s a high abundance of feral cats in Gold River,” Hilgemann said.
“That brings in the cougars.”
Hilgemann said residents should keep their pets on leashes when they are out for a walk and supervise them when they are let out at night.
“When cats are at large, of course they’re [cougars] are going to be interested,” Hilgemann said.
Under the BC Wildlife Act, a BC Conservation Officer can kill a dog that is at large in a wildlife management area or at large and harassing wildlife. An officer may kill a cat at large where wildlife is usually found.
Gold River residents are also asked to protect themselves against possible cougar encounters.
If you do see a cougar, stay calm and keep the cougar in view, pick up children immediately. Children frighten easily and the noise and movements they make could provoke an attack. Back away slowly, ensuring that the animal has a clear avenue of escape.
You should then make yourself look as large as possible and keep the cougar in front of you at all times. Never run or turn your back on a cougar, sudden movement may provoke an attack.
If a cougar shows interest, respond aggressively, maintain eye contact with the cougar, show your teeth and make loud noise. Arm yourself with rocks or sticks as weapons.
If a cougar attacks, fight back, convince the cougar you are a threat and not prey, use anything you can as a weapon. Focus your attack on the cougar’s face and eyes. Use rocks, sticks, bear spray or personal belongings as weapons. This will convince the cougar that you are not prey but are a threat.
Hilgemann said it’s a good idea to carry a fixed knife on a belt and pepper spray. If a cougar poses an immediate threat or danger to public safety, call the Conservation Officer Service call centre at 1-877-952-7277.