This cougar was seen on July 31 in the back bay area of Hot Springs Cove near Tofino. B.C. conservation officer Sergeant Stuart Bates said, due to the extreme remoteness of the location, it is quite possible that the cougar has never seen a human before in its life. He said cougar attacks are extremely rare. (Image courtesy of Michael Antonakos)

Cougar advisory issued for Hot Springs Cove near Tofino

“I’ve met wolves and I’ve seen bears, but never have I seen a cougar before.”

On July 31, BC Parks issued a cougar advisory for Maquinna Marine Provincial Park near Tofino following recent cougar activity in the area.

Visitors touring the hot mineral spring pools within the Maquinna Parks are advised to exercise best backcountry precautions.

BC Parks recommends keeping small children close and staying in groups when in the protected area. If you encounter a cougar, keep calm, states the BC Parks alert. Make yourself look as large as possible and back away slowly, keeping the cougar in view, and allowing a clear exit for the cougar. Pick up children immediately. Never run or turn your back; sudden movements may provoke an attack. If you notice that a cougar is watching you, maintain eye contact with the cougar and speak to it in a loud, firm voice. Reinforce the fact that you are a human and not an easy target. Back out of the area and seek assistance or shelter.

Shaun Shelongosky, longtime Hot Springs Cove resident and owner of the Inn Chanter Bed and Breakfast, had a terrifying encounter with a cougar on the morning of July 31.

Shelongosky was with his two friends Michael and Tara Antonakos when they saw the beautiful animal from the safety of his cabin.

He said the cougar stared at them for several minutes before it charged the glass screen door. His guest, Michael Antonakos, recorded the below video of the large cat on his phone.

“What was missing in the video that was in the news was that [the cougar] put its paw up against and pressed on the French door and hissed. That was scary,” said Shelongosky.

“The thing that concerns me is that the cougar seemed not to be afraid of humans or human habitation, which is a bit unusual,” he continued.

B.C. conservation officer Sergeant Stuart Bates said, due to the extreme remoteness of the location, it is quite possible that the cougar has never seen a human before in its life.

“It might have no idea what they were. From the video, it certainly appears to be a young cougar. From the size of its head, I’d say it’s probably a female because the males tend to have larger heads,” said Serg. Bates.

“It’s certainly a young cat. Probably around 18-months old. It looks more curious than anything. It looks thin, but not starving-thin. It’s not full grown yet.”

Shelongosky has been living in the Hot Springs Cove area for the last 28 years. He said this is the first time he has ever seen a cougar.

“I’ve met wolves and I’ve seen bears, but never have I seen a cougar before. It was quite exciting. Terrifying, but exciting,” said Shelongosky from his cabin located in the back bay of Hot Springs Cove, which is outside the Maquinna Marine Park boundary.

Shelongosky told the Westerly that the July 31 cougar encounter has made him a bit scared to go out.

“I’m alone out here. I’ve spent the last 24 hours looking over my shoulder,” he said, adding that his neighbour lent him a can of pepper spray and an air horn.

Shelongosky said the first thing he did was notify the Hot Spring Cove First Nations village about the cougar. He then reported the incident to BC Parks.

Bates noticed that in the video, Shelongosky and his friends were sitting down.

“As soon as they stood up, the cougar turned and wanders away,” said Bates.

The CO reinforced that if anyone encounters a cougar, they should never run or scream.

“Yell at them. Say ‘Hey Cougar. Hey Cougar.’ Make yourself look big. Don’t run. Back away the way you came and the one key thing is you stare it in the eyes. Do not take your eyes off their eyes. They are literally waiting for you to turn around,” said Bates.

In the event of human-wildlife interaction, contact the RAPP Line 1 877-952-7277 when safe to do so.



nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

RELATED: Michael Kaehn’s new book celebrates Hot Springs Cove’s history

Just Posted

Search for missing Saanich Peninsula pair ends in tragedy

Vehicle found with two deceased occupants inside

Improvements to Sinclair Road coming

Development comes after Cadboro Bay Residents Association (CBRA) raised concerns

Saanich councillor open to more commercial operations in local parks

Coun. Ned Taylor had raised the issue during his election campaign

Langford’s Sarah Beckett Memorial playground opens

Life of West Shore RCMP Constable honoured with new playground

Greater Victoria gemmologist shines with life-time achievement award

Anthony de Goutière received award from Canadian Gemmological Association

VIDEO: High-speed crash at Douglas and Bay Streets caught on camera

Police watch-dog has assumed investigation of Victoria crash that sent three to hospital

Island murder victim’s mom expresses outrage over mental fitness decision of the accused

Smith vows to keep fighting until justice served for Descoteau

B.C. VIEWS: Pipelines set to roll as federal politicians posture

Projects to drive B.C., Canadian economy in years ahead

B.C. Lions fall to 1-9 after 13-10 loss to Ticats

Lowly Leos have dropped six straight CFL contests

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. man who died after rescuing swimmer was known for helping others

Shaun Nugent described as a dad, a coach, a hero and ‘stand-up guy’ at celebration of life

B.C. RCMP plane chases fleeing helicopter as part of major cross-border drug bust

The helicopter eventually landed at a rural property near Chilliwack

Vancouver Island man dead after reported hit-and-run incident

Oceanside RCMP seek public’s help gathering information

Thousands cycle to conquer cancer

The 11th annual Ride to Conquer Cancer took place Saturday morning, Aug. 24 in Surrey, B.C.

Most Read