Thursday, July 25, 2024

Here’s what to do when you encounter a cougar on Vancouver Island


While cougars can be found on Vancouver Island year-round, reports of sightings tend to increase during this season.

Known as one of Canada’s most dangerous predators, cougars are capable of killing prey much bigger than their own weight.

The cougar is a respected and mysterious wild cat that has captured the curiosity of Canadians for well over a century.

With an estimated 4,000 cougars living in BC’s vast landscape, it is estimated that 600 to 800 live on Vancouver Island, making for one of the highest concentrations of the mountain lions in North America.

With the warmer weather now approaching, cougar sightings along trails, parks, and wooded neighbourhoods will become more frequent as the subspecies of mountain lion forages for food while raising their young.

While sightings are rare, for those that happen to cross paths with this feared furry cat, here are 13 tips to handle a close encounter.

While outdoors:

  • Hike in groups and make enough noise to avoid surprising a cat
  • Always keep children close to you
  • For hikes and local adventures, be sure to carry bear spray with you
  • Be mindful of fresh tracks
  • If you stumble upon kittens, leave the area immediately as the female will be close and defend her young
  • Roaming pets are easy prey for cougars, keep them leashed or behind a fence
  • To reduce odours, do not leave open food or food scraps on you
  • Be extra vigilant while walking in strong wind and rain

Experiencing encounters:

  • Always remain calm
  • Never run!
  • Face the cougar and back away slowly. Sudden movement or flight may trigger an instinctive attack
  • Yell, speak loudly and firmly, and throw rocks. Convince the animal that you are a threat, not easy prey
  • If the cougar fights back, many people have survived cougar attacks by fighting back with anything they had, including rocks, sticks, fists, etc.


Victoria Buzz Staff
Your inside source for Greater Victoria happenings. Established in 2012.

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