A Trail, B.C., woman was attacked in her living room and left with minor injuries over the weekend by an older cougar that was desperate for food. The incident comes less than two weeks after a young, malnourished cougar injured a young boy near Port Alberni on Vancouver Island.
"[Young and older cougars] have difficulty accessing natural prey and then will look at targeting non-natural prey," said Mike Baldry, a wildlife conflicts prevention co-ordinator, adding that "pets, livestock or sometimes even people" can be victimized.
On Saturday evening, Angie Prime was sitting on her couch at home in Trail, surrounded by her three dogs, when she was shocked to see a pair of strange, big eyes staring at her from the dark kitchen. They belonged to a wild cougar, she said, which started slinking towards her.
"[The cougar] jumped up at me," said Ms. Prime. "I just kind of put a leg up and put my arms up in front of my face. … I screamed as loud as I could."
One of her dogs chased the intruder outside. But Ms. Prime had already suffered three puncture wounds on her thigh from the cougar's claws. Conservation officers tracked and killed the animal Monday morning.
"It was in pretty poor shape," said Sergeant Rob Hawton from the Trail & Greater District RCMP. He said the at least 10-year-old cougar was emaciated, weak and had worn-down teeth. "It just wasn't capable of hunting in a normal manner. So, it was desperate."
It is extremely rare for cougars to be in that condition, said Sgt. Hawton.
Less than two weeks prior, a young, malnourished cougar pounced on a seven-year-old boy during a family camping trip near Sproat Lake on Vancouver Island. Doctors treated the boy for puncture wounds and scratches to his head and shoulder.
Conservation officers also killed that cougar and a necropsy confirmed it was malnourished.
Cougar attacks in the province are very rare and usually do not exceed two per year, said Mr. Baldry, the wildlife conflicts prevention co-ordinator. But when they do occur, he said, it is normal for young cougars struggling to stake out their hunting territory and sick or injured older cougars to succumb to hunger and try and prey on people.
He said B.C. residents should always take precautions to deter cougar encounters. Never feed wildlife at home, he said, and manage garbage so that it does not attract cougars' prey like raccoons.
"If you live in B.C., you pretty much live in cougar country," he said.
With a report from The Canadian Press