KAMLOOPS — A Kamloops couple is breathing a big collective sigh of relief after coming face-to-face with a cougar this morning in Pineview.
Crystal Becker says she was hiking with her husband and dog in a trail at 9:45 Friday morning when it happened.
"About five minutes into the hike I saw an animal go by and I said to my husband it's a deer and we all stopped and looked again and it wasn't a deer. It was a good-sized cougar looking right at us and our dog," she says, estimating it was just 15 feet away. "We kind of froze. It was quite intimidating and our dog came running back to us and we made a lot of noise and made ourselves big and the cougar sort of backed away, hid behind a tree, stared at us then we bolted quickly away."
Sgt. Kevin Van Damme with the Conservation Officer Service says the family took the appropriate action.
"What they did was exactly what we ask people to do. Be big, make some noise. If you do have pets like dogs, dogs are more of a natural prey item for a cougar, just try to back everybody out of the situation and most often the cougar is sitting there watching, assessing to see whether or not there's a threat to itself, or whether or not the things that are in front of them are a prey item. Of course, people don't fit into that category."
He adds cougar sightings are not that uncommon in Kamloops.
"We have cougars that are active and have part of their territory all through and around the perimeter of Kamloops and at any time throughout the year we have these interactions."
To his knowledge, Van Damme says a cougar has never attacked a person in town, though that's cold comfort to Becker.
"I'm just thankful that I wasn't on my own today because I usually am."
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