Cougar stalks family near Royal Roads

Cougar warnings are posted at Royal Roads University grounds now that another serious encounter, this one involving young children, has occurred along with the stalking of a dog walker last Metchosin father Ben Blowatt was walking with children, aged four and five, and two aged Labradors at about 4:30 p.m.

They were well into a trail close to Esquimalt Lagoon when Blowatt, 41, “casually glanced back” to check on his dog, Riley, about five steps behind him

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The cougar was “just literally walking the path, about 15 feet behind my dog.” It was a large cougar, he said. “He was way bigger than my Lab, and he is 90 lbs.

“I instantly put my hands straight up and starting yelling,” Blowatt said. The cougar did not run away but turned around and stopped every few meters to gauge again, Blowatt recalled Monday night. Eventually, “it kind of disappeared in the embankment.”

His son, four, wanted to be picked up and carried but Blowatt needed to keep his bear spray at the ready and held his son’s hand His daughter, five, had not seen the cougar’s ”big black nose” as his son put it.

The “scariest part” was having to shepherd the kids along what was close to a 20-minute walk to their car, which they did in double time, he said. He kept yelling to keep the cougar at bay but the elderly dogs kept stopping, thinking he was yelling at them. “When I finally got the gate, I called 911” and a B.C. Conservation officer responded quickly with tracking hounds that ultimately picked up the scent, Blowatt said. He was virtually voiceless making the call, but met a man near the Sangster elementary school gate who said he too had encountered a cougar on Sunday.

Blowatt warned a couple carrying a baby in a snugglie not to head in the direction he had just come from, and said he was disappointed that official signs did not go up earlier.

A cougar stalked Shannon Vye of Colwood Thursday evening while she was walking her chihuahua in the park near Wishart Road about 8 p.m.

The cougar’s eyes stayed locked on her for the entire 13 minutes she awaited West Shore RCMP officers. The arrived with guns drawn, and the cougar ran away.

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