Campers parked on B.C. highway surprised by cougar

Video shows animal slowly approaching vehicle until engine starts

Campers caught footage of a cougar approaching their car in the forests of Vancouver Island recently.

They were about 75 km southwest of Campbell River on Highway 28 when the encounter took place, said Oren Hanscomb, who was among the campers.

They had pulled over on the soft shoulder of the highway when the cougar “poked its head over the ledge,” said Hanscomb in an email.

They rolled up the windows of the vehicle as the animal slowly advanced. The video shows it approaching the car until Hanscomb starts the engine.

“I turned my Jeep on just to make sure it stayed away, which worked,” he said. “Then soon after we just left.”

The sighting took place on July 6.

People who encounter wildlife like cougars on the road are advised to stay in their vehicle, and to consider not stopping. This keeps them from becoming accustomed to people.

Provincial conservation authorities advise anyone who encounters a cougar to stay calm, keep the animal in view and pick up any children immediately. The noise and movements of frightened children could startle the animal, provoking an attack. Then back away slowly, making sure the cougar has a way to escape.

People who encounter a cougar are also advised to make themselves seem as large as possible. Never turn your back on a cougar, and never run from it.

If followed by a cougar, respond with aggression: show your teeth, maintain eye contact and make loud noises. Grab rocks or sticks to arm yourself.

And fight back if the cougar attacks, striking at its face and eyes, and using anything available as a weapon.

If a cougar poses an immediate threat to public safety, call the Conservation Office’s hotline: 1-877-952-7277.

More information about cougars and other wild animals can be found at the BC Conservation Foundation’s WildSafeBC website and the provincial government’s “Staying Safe Around Wildlife” website.

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