Canmore's Ben Allan used his bike to fend off a "charging" cougar on Friday (Jan. 30) morning. JORDAN SMALL RMO PHOTO
An alleged cougar encounter has shaken up a Canmore man after a wild animal “charged” at him multiple times on Friday (Jan. 30) morning. Ben Allan, 20, says he fended off a charging cougar at around 4:30 a.m. on 4th Avenue and 4th Street while biking home from a friend’s house. The incident that happened about 20 metres from Allan’s home has left him feeling lucky to be alive. “I saw something out of the corner of my eye and it charged me from my left side and I kind of veered right and I got off my bike and it was really dark,” Allan said, adding in the dark he thought it was a coyote and then a wolf because the size of the animal was much larger. “I instantly started like screaming and smacking my bike and it wouldn’t even like flinch on anything I did and it made me feel uneasy.” A member of Canmore Fish and Wildlife confirmed there was a wildlife encounter Friday morning, but no further information was provided at this time. Allan said all he had between himself and the wild animal was his bike, which he used as a barrier until he was close enough to the front door of his house. He threw his bike at the cougar and ran. “I was continuously backing up, and it ran underneath a (pine) tree in my yard and I was wedged between the tree and my dad’s car. I tossed my bike at it and ran for my door and thank God it was unlocked,” he said. The commotion woke Allan’s father and girlfriend who came to investigate. As he explained that some large animal had been charging at him, he then got an up close look at the culprit. “I turned on the balcony light and looked down and there’s a cougar on my front steps, six feet long, looking at me in the eye and that’s when it realized it was a cougar,” he said. “I remember its green hazel -y eyes looking at me.” Allan said it was gone after about 20 seconds and the whole ordeal lasted about two and a half minutes. He notified the Canmore RCMP of the encounter. Allan wasn’t injured, but said he’s never experienced anything like that in his 20 years in Canmore. “I was really scared and that didn’t seem like normal (cougar) activity to me … If my house wasn’t there I don’t know what would have happened, (or) if I didn’t have a bike,” Allan said. This year Alberta Parks and Bow Valley Wildsmart erected three cougar warning signs at the Canmore Nordic Centre, Cougar Creek and Barrier Lake. They include information about living in cougar country, recreating in cougar country and what to do when encountering a cougar. All cougar sightings should be reported to Kananaskis Emergency Services at 403-591-7755. With files from Justin Brisbane.