By Andrew Mitchell
Reports were hazy on Wednesday, but conservation officer Chris
Doyle has confirmed that a group of at least two cyclists were chased by a
cougar on a trail near Myrtle Philip Community Centre around 7 p.m. on Tuesday,
July 3. The RCMP were called and attended the scene, but could not locate the
According to Dave McClatchey, who was playing goal at the time,
two cyclists on cruiser bikes biked on to the soccer field during the game and
said that a huge cougar had approached them, and got between them. They managed
to regroup and biked away, the cougar following.
The soccer players suggested they call the RCMP, and they rode
away, returning a little later at the same time as the RCMP.
According to Doyle, their description of the cougar matches the
description of a cougar that pursued a mountain biker on the Comfortably Numb
trail on June 2.
“So far the cougar hasn’t hurt anybody, but it does concern us
that it is interested in people,” said Doyle. “We’re still not sure if it’s one
cougar doing this or more than one. Most likely it’s the same cougar, but we
haven’t been able to confirm it.”
Doyle said there have been between 15 and 20 cougar sightings
in the Whistler area since the first mountain biker was chased. Cougars have
been found looking into windows, and as recently as last week a cougar was
spotted on a porch in the Emerald Estates subdivision.
According to Doyle, cougars can be found anywhere that prey is
plentiful, and deer sightings have been more common in Whistler in recent
It is difficult to track or trap cougars, Doyle added, because
they have such a huge range.
“One cougar could have a territory the size of the entire
municipality of Whistler, or a hundred square kilometres,” he said. “They cover
a lot of ground.”
Tracking dogs can be used to find cougars, but only when they
have a fresh kill or sighting to use as a starting point. Some cougars have
been known to travel as much as 80 kilometres in a single day.
Doyle said that people should be aware that there are cougars
in the area, and should report all sightings to the RCMP and to the
Conservation Office at 1-877-952-7277. The office is open 24 hours a day, seven
days a week.
People should also exercise caution. Travel in groups when
possible, and do not leave pets out at night. Take special caution when
travelling with children.
In the event you encounter a cougar, the Conservation Office
has posted guidelines for the public:
• Stay calm and keep the cougar in view.
• Pick up children immediately; children frighten easily,
and the noise and movements they make could provoke an attack.
• Back away slowly, ensuring that the animal has a clear avenue
• Make yourself look as large as possible.
• Keep the cougar in front of you at all times.
• Never run or turn your back on a cougar. Sudden movement
may provoke an attack.
• If a cougar shows interest or follows you, respond aggressively.
Maintain eye contact with the cougar, show your teeth and make loud noises. Arm
yourself with rocks or sticks as weapons, but crouch down as little as possible
when bending down to pick things off the ground.
• If a cougar attacks, fight back. Convince the cougar you are
a threat and not prey. Use anything you can as a weapon. Focus your attack on
the cougar’s face and eyes.
• If you do see a cougar in a residential area, remain calm. Keep away from the cougar and tell others to do the same. Bring children and pets inside until the cougar has left.