The big cat keeps coming back to Slocan City.
A young cougar that was chased around and inside a house early this month has returned to the area at least twice since.
Shayla Aumack, who now carries an airhorn and doesn’t walk alone at night, first came upon the cougar as she returned home from her Slocan Village Market job at about 8:30 p.m. on March 3.
There was a knee-high tall cougar just inside the open door of her shed, which is attached to her home, just on the outskirts of Slocan City.
“I was shocked. Our eyes locked. I knew what I was looking at, but it was still hard to believe,” said Aumack, 20, who began backing up away from the door towards her grandmother’s home about 50 feet.
She was alerting a friend via Facebook messenger while yelling at Levi Grey, her roommate — who was inside the house — to not come outside.
“I said ‘Don’t open the door’ but he only heard ‘Open the door,’” said Aumack, adding that once Grey opened the door her large Akbash dog, Koda, ran from the house and began chasing the cougar. Within a minute, Grey was outside and the dog had chased the cougar back inside the house.
Aumack managed to grab Koda before the pet went inside, leaving the cougar alone inside the house with Aumack’s four pet cats.
“I was freaking out about my cats,” she said, worried about her four pets.
Then her grandmother, Leah Hernandez, in her 60s, grabbed an axe and hurried inside Kayla’s house. She was soon followed by Grey, 23, armed with a baseball bat and a friend, Robin Henderson, who picked up a work hammer.
“They chased the cougar around inside the house. They were all really close to the cat. Just a few feet away,” said Aumack, stressing that no one wanted to hurt the animal.
The cat was not aggressive, although Aumack said “It did hiss at my grandma once when she moved her axe towards it. “
At one point, the cougar was stuck between the door outside Aumack’s bedroom and the door in an upstairs hallway. The cat finally freed itself, ran downstairs and hopped into the kitchen sink. Later the animal ran around the living room, breaking several wine glasses, knocking the phone on the floor and tossed papers and items off the piano.
“It just wanted to get out,” said Aumack. Eventually the cougar ran out of the house after almost 30 minutes.
As the cougar took off into a wooded area “we all looked at each other and just laughed. it was so ridiculous. We can’t believe it happened.”
Her four cats — Kalala, Diablo, Wobble, Jiraiya — were all found safe hiding inside the house.
Aumack said she called animal conservation officers, but they did not respond to the scene “because the cougar had already gone.”
About a week later “the cougar came back and was on my balcony,” said Aumack, adding she easily shooed the big cat away, adding she now calls it “the big kitty.”
Last week, the same cougar was found in a nearby home’s greenhouse.
“He was chased out and down the road,” said Aumack, who was told about the incident by neighhours.
To prevent the cougar from going into her home anymore, Aumack has now closed the shed door outside of her house.
“I’m still pretty careful,” she said.
Conservation officer Nathan Smienk said the incident is “an important reminder to everyone to keep their pets inside and your doors closed.”
He also reminded everyone who has a wildlife issue to call the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277.