Clearwater resident Barry Joneson had a close encounter of the cougar kind Tuesday morning, Nov. 21.
Unfortunately, the encounter ended with police having to shoot the big feline.
According to Joneson, he went to a home in Clearwater’s Weyerhaeuser subdivision after a friend asked him to pick up her daughter’s dead cat that had been killed by a cougar.
The friend’s daughter had two little boys who had been taken to day-care. They wanted Joneson to put the dead cat into a box while the boys were away so they could have a little funeral when they came back home.
To his surprise, he found when he arrived that the cougar had not left the backyard.
“I opened the back gate and I heard a sound like I had never heard before – like a big cat on steroids,” he said. “It was still there and hadn’t left at all, just hiding.”
The cougar took a run at him when he tried to take the dead cat away.
Joneson left the backyard in a hurry, dropping his gloves and the box, but locking the gate behind him.
“I shut that gate because it goes out onto Robson Street, the main street and kids were going by on their way to school,” he said.
When the big cat was busy with its meal again he sat in his vehicle, watching it.
He kept an eye on the big predator because youngsters were walking by going to school.
There was a school-bus stop just two houses down from where the cougar was.
Joneson’s dog, Otis, wanted to fight the big cat but Joneson put him in his truck where he would be safe.
The cougar seemed to be not afraid of anything. It also was limping and appeared to be injured.
If it hadn’t been injured it could easily have jumped the backyard gate and come after him, if it had been so inclined, Joneson felt.
On the other hand, if it hadn’t been cornered in the backyard, it likely would not have charged him in the first place, he said.
He pointed out that there are many deer tracks in the area, so if the cougar had been healthy, it would have had plenty of other opportunities to get food.
After a while the police arrived. By this time the big cat had found a way out of the backyard, possibly by jumping from a pile of leaves.
The police located the cougar several blocks away and dispatched it.
“It was kind of sad, actually,” said Joneson. “I hate to see any animal put down. Still, it was just as well the little boys didn’t go into the backyard while it was there.”
According to Clearwater RCMP Sgt. Grant Simpson, the detachment had received several reports that morning of a cougar in the subdivision.
Police conducted extensive patrols and warned people out walking about the sightings. They urged them to be careful and to keep their pets indoors. Police also kept a close watch over children heading to school or waiting for buses.
Later in the morning, while still conducting patrols, police learned that the cougar had reportedly approached to within three metres of a man (Joneson) and had killed a cat as well.
Police eventually found the cougar several blocks from where it was originally sighted.
An attempt was made to “herd” it away from the settled area.
Unfortunately, the cougar showed no fear when approached by police.
It appeared unhealthy, hungry and had a limp, Simpson said.
Police decided the animal posed a significant risk to the public and had to be put down. Tranquilizing the cougar was not an option because of its behavior and its apparent unhealthy and starving condition.
When it entered the tarped-in porch of a house under renovation, it was shot by police.
Police seized the carcass for the BC Conservation Officer Service, who will perform a necropsy on it.