A Lake Cowichan boy who was mauled by two cougars on Friday afternoon has been released from hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.
“His injuries weren’t particularly threatening,” B.C. Conservation Insp. Ben York said on Saturday. “It’s claw and puncture marks, bite marks on the back of the head, one of his arms and a little bit on the back of the neck.”
The boy, who is between the ages of six and 10, was attacked about 3:30 p.m. in the yard of his home on Point Ideal Drive in Lake Cowichan. He was not alone at the time, York said. The boy’s family has asked for privacy.
Two cougars were shot and killed by conservation officers a short time later. One cougar was found on the scene by an officer doing a safety sweep. The second cougar ran from the scene and was tracked by conservation officers using hounds.
“The cougars were both very emaciated, very skinny and in very poor overall condition, very light for their size,” York said. “We don’t know what might have caused that.”
A necropsy will be performed on both animals by the provincial wildlife veterinarian in the next week, he said. “She may find something specific, but it may be something simple like their mother was killed or abandoned them. It’s very hard to say what caused them to be in very poor condition.”
The wildlife veterinarian will also try to determine the age of the cougars.
“Normally, we can estimate their age from tooth eruptions to the gums. But when they are in poor condition, that may be more excessive, so it’s hard to judge,” York said.
Conservation officers were initially concerned that a third cougar was involved.
On Friday night, officers set up remote sensing cameras in the area.
“We also had traps. We canvassed the neighbours as wel [Saturday] morning. There was nothing on the cameras, nothing in the traps and nobody has seen anything,” York said.
“We are extremely confident, based on witness statements, what was seen by first responders and some of the initial things on site, that there were only the two animals involved. There’s a pretty good chance these animals were siblings and so there’s always the possibility of another one. But we’re very confident there were two animals involved and we got them both.”
The B.C. Conservation Officer Service is still investigating what happened, York said.
“It’s an evolving process. This is our preliminary information and it could change as we find out more,” he said.” The key thing for us was to make sure the public was safe. When we went in, the very first thing we wanted to make sure of is that nobody else was going to get hurt.”
Cougar attacks on Vancouver Island
• July 1976: Matilda May Samuel, 7, of Port Alberni, was killed while picking berries near Gold River.
• May 1988: Jesse Sky Bergman, 9, was mauled and killed near Catface, a tiny community eight kilometres northwest of Tofino
• May 1992: Jeremy Lucas Williams, 7, of Kyuquot, was mauled to death as he played with his younger brother and two young friends. Kyuquot is a community on the northwest coast of the Island, about 150 kilometres west of Campbell River.
• October 1994: A Gold River Mountie on horseback beat away a cougar that clawed his right leg. Coincidentally, the officer had shot and killed a cougar five months earlier after it mauled a seven-year-old boy as he was walking to school.
• Feb. 8, 2001, Port Alice: A 52-year-old man was attacked by a cougar while cycling.
• August 2002, Port Alice: A 61-year-old man fought off a cougar with a pocket knife, receiving injuries to his face, neck and shoulders.
• July 2003, Compton Island: An eight-year-old girl was attacked on a beach as she bent over to look at a crab.
• June 24, 2005, Port Alice: A 54-year-old German tourist was attacked by a cougar as she sipped coffee on a bench outside her motor home.
• July 27, 2005, Zeballos: A four-year-old girl was attacked on a trail while walking.
• August 2006, Comox Valley: A four-year-old boy was bitten on the back of his head while playing on the beach in a remote park. The cougar was scared off by the boy’s his father, who was fishing nearby.
• Aug. 30, 2011, Ucluelet: An 18-month-old boy was attacked near Kennedy Lake in Pacific Rim National Park.
• September 2012: An Ahousaht excavator operator was able to radio for help after an attack in a gravel pit.
• Sept. 21, 2015: A Tahsis father drove away a cougar after it attacked his two-year-old in their yard, leaving her with scratches and puncture wounds.
• July 2016: A vacationing Vancouver man used a rock to beat away a cougar that attacked as he jogged along a remote logging road on northern Vancouver Island.