'A public safety risk': Cougars killed after dog scratched, officer stalked
Residents in a north side Port Coquitlam neighbourhood are breathing easier after conservation officers shot and killed a pair of cougars in a popular park for families with children and dogs.
A single officer was initially dispatched to Chelsea Park after someone reported a cougar had taken a swipe at a dog on a leash.
The dog's owner, Oleksandr Kalinin, told CTV News the cat scratched seven-year-old Roxy's eye, then advanced on him. He said he pulled the dog back then threw a rock at the cougar.
"And puma go back to the forest," he said.
Roxy's face was bloody, but the day after the incident, the small dog was back to walking his regular route. Fortunately the scratches were minor.
Field Officer Nicole Caithness went into a wooded area near the park and quickly found a cougar looking at her.
"It had attacked a dog, it wasn't leaving an urban area, so it was a public safety risk at this point,” said Caithness.
She returned to her truck to grab a rifle, and made her way back into the woods.
What unfolded next was one of the scariest animal encounters of her career.
"It was actually right behind me stalking me,” said Caithness. “As I turned and looked, it took a couple of steps towards me and looked like it was going to pounce me, so I dispatched the animal."
After putting the animal down, Caithness realized a second cougar was also watching her so she called for backup and cleared people away from the park.
As other conservation officers and RCMP began to arrive, curious residents gathered across the street from the park.
"We don't get cougars out here often. At least it's the first time I've heard of it,” said Charles Aruliah, who explained bear and coyote sightings are a common occurrence.
Shortly before 7 p.m. conservation officers shot and killed the second cougar.
As her colleagues loaded the animal carcasses into the back of a truck, Caithness calmly explained how she survived the face-to-face encounter.
"That's a first for me. I've never had that experience before,” she said. “It's not pleasant. But we're trained to deal with dangerous wildlife so I just relied on my training."
Caithness says she believes the pair of cougars were juvenile siblings who had recently been forced out on their own by their mother.
She says the behaviour they displayed – particularly not showing any fear of people and staying near a park with a playground – made them extremely dangerous and left conservation officers no choice but to destroy them.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Nafeesa Karim
This is Roxy, the dog that was scratched by a cougar in #PortCoquitlam yesterday AM. Owner tells me the cougar advanced on him so he he threw a rock at it. Conservation officers found & destroyed 2 juvenile cougars in the park. Watch @CTVVancouver for the exclusive story. pic.twitter.com/7RdEUEQbRB— Nafeesa Karim (@nafeesakarim) June 1, 2018