A cougar that charged at a woman on the Galloping Goose trail in Langford was shot dead today and authorities believe a second cat is still on the loose.
“This was probably one of the most dangerous cougars I have ever come across, for what it could have done,” said conservation officer Peter Pauwels, who shot the animal after tracking dogs treed it near Anders Road in the Glen Lake area.
It’s rare to see a cougar in the open in daylight, and rarer still to have it run at a person, he said. “That’s a sign that it’s an extremely dangerous animal.”
It was just before 6 a.m. when 37-year-old woman Nadia Van Tankeren, walking to work along the trail, spotted a cougar sitting less than 10 metres away. When it began to run at her, she turned and fled toward a house perhaps 70 metres away. As she ran, the cougar slowed to a trot, then stopped and stared at the woman as she reached the house and pulled out her phone to call for help. As she spoke on the phone, it slipped into the bush.
Pauwels initially believed it was the same animal responsible for killing four sheep in Metchosin over the past couple of weeks.
But then he received word that a cyclist riding the Galloping Goose near Glen Lake at 7:45 a.m. Monday saw two cougars together. One appeared healthy, the other quite thin.
That would seem to agree with other evidence: The cougar shot Monday was robust, while the animal caught on a motion-sensitive camera near Lombard Road in Metchosin on May 23 appeared gaunt.
Pauwels says distemper has been weakening wildcats around North America — including Vancouver Island — and leading them to hunt easy prey such as cats, dogs and lambs.