Two dogs attacked by cougar in Sparwood

Elk Valley Conservation Officers are warning residents to take proper precautions while outdoors.

Following two separate cougar attacks in which dogs were injured earlier this month, Elk Valley Conservation Officers are warning residents to take proper precautions while outdoors.

The first incident occurred on May 12.

According to Conservation Officer Ray Gilewicz, a group of four residents were walking several dogs on the Lower Elk Valley Road in Sparwood when a cougar approached them and attacked one of the dogs.

“They were doing their evening walk when they encountered a cougar in close quarters,” Gilewicz said. “The cougar had come within close proximity and had grabbed one of their small dogs from them and taken off with it.”

After firing off a bear banger, the cougar was scared away, climbing into a tree with the dog.

The dog then fell from the tree, at which point the cougar climbed back down and continued to attack the dog.

“The cougar came down the tree and got on top of the dog at which time one of the [residents] grabbed a large stick and started hitting the cougar with the stick, allowing the dog to escape.”

This was unfortunately not an isolated incident.

Two days later, a resident in Sparwood encountered the same cougar attacking his dog underneath his mobile home.

“He crawled underneath his mobile home on his hands and knees and struck the cougar several times with a hammer,” noted Gilewicz, adding that the dog was able to escape with minor injuries.

Following the incident, the resident called over his neighbour and they again located the cougar underneath the Sparwood resident’s mobile home.

“Because of what had happened they shot the cougar,” Gilewicz said. “They were right in doing what they had done and defending their dog.”

The Conservation Officer said that because the cougar gave off a strong scent of skunk in both incidents, he was confident that it was the same animal.

Conservation Officers highlighted the condition of the cougar, noting that the young male appeared malnourished.

“This cougar wasn’t healthy,” Conservation Officer Trish Burley said. “It was a younger cat that was emaciated and pretty skinny.”

She added that although these types of attacks are extremely rare, it is essential to exercise precaution when outdoors.

“For cougar safety, it’s always good for people to be aware of their surroundings, have their dogs on leash, make lots of noise. When you do come across a cougar, it’s best not to run, it’s recommended to back up slowly, get out of the area and give it its space,” she highlighted.

Gilewicz reiterated Burley’s warnings, stating, “We live in an area surrounded by wildlife and at times it does encroach. We should be aware of our pets and property.”