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Cougar causes trail closure

Masha Scheele

One local received an unwanted surprise while biking along the Happy Creek trail system near the lookout this week when a cougar jumped across the trail upon her approach.

Chris Watson, Fish and Wildlife officer, said that other than walking adjacent and parallel to the individual, the cougar was not aggressive.

In speaking with the individual after the encounter on Aug. 18, Fish and Wildlife determined that the cougar had made a kill and cached or buried it right on the trail itself.

“From what she described we believe this to be a whitetail buck,” stated Watson. 

Reluctant to move away from its fresh kill, the cat didn’t appear to want to leave the area near the trail known as Halloween.

Watson explained that in nearly every instance, cougars lie within a hundred yards of their kill or even lay on top to protect them from birds or other predators.

Watson concluded that it appeared the individual in this instance was prepared and handled the incident properly.

“This cat appears to have been startled and the person who had this encounter took all the proper precautions to address the matter and was adequately prepared with bear spray – although it wasn’t deployed from our understanding,” Watson said.

A Fish and Wildlife officer attended the area to ensure public safety and to post signs and tape off this section of trail.

The trail and the immediate vicinity of this encounter is expected to be closed for a week to 10 days.

This natural food source was moved away from the trail where the cougar could finish its meal and move on. 

This was not to take away the kill it needs to survive but to move it off the trail in its established home range and away from disturbance of recreational users.

Cougar information signage remains in place behind Maxwell Lake and near the bike park, discussing cougars and what to do if one encounters a cat.  

The Hinton Voice reached out for comment from the individual who encountered the cougar, but they would not comment.

Earlier this week, Fish and Wildlife looked into what was believed to be a cougar attack on a dog at the south west end of Seabolt Estates west of Hinton.

The dog was attacked off a deck where it was sleeping overnight and remains missing, Watson stated.

The predator responsible remains at large and Fish and Wildlife continue their efforts in identifying what occurred.

Any encounters with wildlife should be reported to Fish and Wildlife through the Report A Poacher hotline at -800-642-3800.