Hiker followed by cougar at Yamnuska
Alberta Parks has posted a cougar warning at Mount Yamnuska parking lot and trailhead following an incident where a cougar followed a man walking off trail for nearly half an hour.
Conservation Officer Arian Spiteri said the warning was issued Saturday (Aug. 4) after a call was received that morning concerning the incident.
“The individual was just travelling through the forest and then turned around and noticed it was following behind him,” Spiteri explained. “He behaved appropriately by making lots of noise, throwing sticks and being aggressive, which is what you want to do.”
According to the report, the animal backed off, but returned after the man proceeded back to his vehicle. Spiteri said it is unclear whether the cougar was acting in a predatory way.
“It’s tough to say whether it was predatory or just curious. The warnings were posted in the area and since then we haven’t received any reports of a cougar.”
This is the first cougar warning of the season for this area, Spiteri noted, as the interaction between this animal and humans is, for the most part, very rare.
“It’s not common behaviour typically, which is why we posted a warning,” she said. “Cougars are wide-ranging animals. Depending on whether an individual cougar is male or female, their home ranges can be anywhere from 90 kilometres to 315.
“We just want to make sure that users in the area are aware and they have a heightened sense of their surroundings,” she added. “The cougar didn’t have a transmitter so it’s going to be difficult to know for sure when it’s left the area.”
It is recommended that to avoid cougars, people should travel in groups with children kept close by at all times and pets always on a leash. People on trails should make noise and remain observant of seeing or smelling any carcasses. If a carcass is spotted, they should immediately leave the area.
Spiteri also recommended carrying bear spray and knowing how to properly use it.
“Never turn your back on a cougar,” she added. “Maintain eye contact, always give it an escape option and make yourself look big and threatening. Never run.”
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