Wilderness area closed after fisher reportedly stalked by cougar
In this May 23, 2012, file photo, an approximately 2-year-old female cougar runs away from a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife trap after being released northeast of Arlington, Wash. (Mark Mulligan/The Daily Herald via AP, File)
EDMONTON -- A conservation area in central Alberta has been closed since Sunday after a reported cougar stalking incident.
The Drake and Porter Conservation Site near Caroline, Alta., was closed Aug. 16 until further notice.
Alberta Fish and Wildlife says an angler reported being followed by a cougar that afternoon for a kilometre along Raven River.
“An officer responded to the incident, but could not locate the cougar in the area,” a statement from the government department reads.
“Based on the angler’s account, the cougar was not displaying aggressive or predatory behaviour, but as a precaution, the Alberta Conservation Association made the decision to close the area to give the cougar more space.”
Alberta Fish and Wildlife is still monitoring the location southwest of Red Deer.
The teen who reported the animal says he was heading out to fish on Raven River when he noticed the cougar on the other side. Even when he decided to turn around, Brandon Fobes told CTV News Edmonton, the cougar continued to track him.
“I’ve been around bears, I’ve been around coyotes, wolves, but I’m more scared of cougars than I am of anything else,” the Spruce Grove teen said, recalling how the cat followed him the entire trek back to his vehicle.
Despite the "terrifying" encounter, Fobes said he’ll return to the spot – with experts’ advice in mind.
“It’s a wonderful spot to fish – but be smart,” he said.
“We’re in their backyard. They’ve got home-turf advantage.”
The experts say cougar encounters are rare as the animals are typically shy of humans and will leave an area they know humans are in.
However, they advised Raven River fishers to stay in groups and be prepared:
- Carry bear spray, in case a cougar comes within 12 metres;
- Keep children close and dogs on a leash;
- If a cougar is spotted, do not run or turn your back. If it appears unaware of you, gather everyone close and slowly back away from the area;
- If a cougar hisses, snarls, stares intently, or tracks your movement, make yourself look big and speaking loudly. Do no run or play dead; and
- If a cougar makes contact, fight back. “Don’t give up. Use all means at your disposal.”
To report wildlife dangers, call the 24-hour Report a Poacher line at 1-800-642-3800.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeff Lawrence