A Fernie father was forced to use his feet and rocks to beat off a cougar that was attacking his four-year-old son on Sunday.
The incident happened around 1 p.m. while the boy was on a fishing trip with his family in the Lower Morrissey Creek area. The B.C. Conservation Officer Service says the attack was unprovoked.
“He had his two infant children with him and while they were fishing and walking, the parent turned around and noticed that the youngest infant, a four-year-old son, was being attacked by a cougar,” said conservation officer Joe Caravetta.
“The cougar was on top of the four-year-old. The parent then basically beat the cougar off of the infant using his feet and rocks. He was able to grab his infant son and depart from the area.”
Caravetta said the boy was taken to a hospital in Fernie, where he was treated for lacerations and puncture wounds. He was later released from hospital.
The B.C. Conservation Officer Service deployed its predator attack team, a unit of officers dedicated to dealing with predator attacks, and enlisted the services of a local cougar houndsman, whose dogs searched the area.
“We were very quickly on site. We were able to locate where the attack occurred and we were not successful in locating the cougar,” said Caravetta.
“We do not feel that there’s an imminent threat to the public safety, just by where the location of this is, being about 8-10 kilometres outside of town. It’s not a highly used public area, but we are asking the public to refrain from that Lower Morrissey Creek area.”
The B.C. Conservation Officer Service made the decision to halt the search for the cougar on Tuesday afternoon. Caravetta said the hot temperatures, combined with windy and smoky conditions made it difficult for the dogs to find the cougar.
But despite the cougar still being on loose, Caravetta said there’s no reason for the public to be concerned.
“These aren’t common occurrences. It sounds like this was a very young cougar and we’re asking the public if they see a cougar in that area to report it to us,” he said.
“Certainly we do live in cougar habitat. There are other species around here that the cougars feed on, so cougars do live here. Most cougar activity is during night time, they’re more of a nocturnal animal, meaning they do most of their hunting and activity at night. Occasionally they are seen during the day because they do move around during the day, but it’s not a common occurrence.”