Central Saanich resident Anne White was taking a stroll in Mount Wells Regional Park on Sunday evening with her husband and dog Roscoe when they spotted a cougar.
“I looked up at the tree and I was instantly terrified,” said White.
The cougar was perched on a tree just 10 metres away. At first, the couple didn’t move, but their dog did.
“Roscoe ran ahead and treed the cougar, which is really funny because he’s very little,” said White, laughing.
It was a rare act of bravery for the five-year-old, 15 pound canine.
“Maybe he just wanted to play with the cougar, I don’t know, because normally Roscoe is scared of a piece of paper falling on the floor,” admitted the dog-owner.
Her husband grabbed the dog and eventually made himself look big, making lots of noise, backing away, until the cougar ran out of sight.
According to Vanessa Isnardy, provincial coordinator for Wildsafe BC, these actions were the right ones to make when facing a cougar.
“Stay calm and avoid the urge to run, back away slowly. You want to make sure you look big and aggressive with a cougar and you want to look the cougar in the eye. Yell at them, make noise, and don’t expose your back,” said Isnardy.
She says encounters with wildlife might become more common as the spike in hikers this year amid the pandemic has brought in an increase of garbage left behind, drawing animals in.
Although it seems it was a harmless encounter for Anne and Roscoe, it doesn’t always end up that way.
“There are lots of examples where animals, dogs, have chased an animal way and they’ve fled, but there’s also lots of examples where this has not happened and its ended tragically for the pet,” said Isnardy.
“Sometimes people also get injured trying to break apart a fight between pet and a wild animal.”
Luckily, Roscoe is fine and ready for more hikes in the near future.
“My biggest concern was that the cougar would take Roscoe ’cause he’s so small,” said White.
For anyone going into the woods, Isnardy recommends keeping dogs on a leash if they have a tendency to chase and to always bring bear spray, attached at the hip for easy access and not in a backpack.