Cougars are on the prowl at an increased rate in Greater Victoria’s remote areas, prompting officials to warn locals to stay wary.
The BC Conservation Officer Service (COS) confirms another cougar attack on a dog this past Monday, April 4th, at Mount Quimper Sea to Sea Regional Park in Sooke.
The incident happened at around 10 a.m., the COS told Victoria Buzz.
“The dog was ahead of its owner off leash when the cougar pounced on it and tried to drag it off trail,” reads a statement.
“The owner managed to distract the cougar, and it let go of the dog.”
But this incident follows a trio or “unusual cluster” of cougar attacks on dogs in the East Sooke and Metchosin areas.
The COS says these incidents, which happened in recent weeks, involved larger breed dogs and took place during the daytime in the backyards of rural residences.
“One dog was killed in the latest incident [on Thursday, March 31st] in Metchosin, where two cougars were spotted,” the COS said Friday.
“The other dogs have survived. Conservation officers believe there may also be at least one additional cougar incident.”
While it’s not unusual for cougars to consider roaming dogs as prey, the COS is “particularly concerned” due to the repeated behaviour during daytime hours.
They say they’re closely monitoring the situation and encourage residents to be aware of their surroundings, taking extra precautions like keeping dogs on a leash or under close supervision.
Victoria’s Jessica Shaw echoes these warnings.
On March 21st, she said she was still reeling from trauma after her small dog was attacked by a cougar in Port Hardy and left seriously injured, cutting his vision in half.
“Keep your dog on a leash, maybe,” said Shaw.
“But regardless, dogs are known to be taken right off a leash from a cougar. Still, I think it gives you that much more protection. Especially go in groups, make noise when you’re hiking, and have your protective gear.”
For more cougar safety tips, the COS points to this website.
It’s also asking people to report cougar sightings immediately to the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line at 1 (877) 952-7277.