A 10-year-old boy who was clawed at by a cougar is back to playing and running around, according to a conservation officer.
“The young fella is absolutely phenomenal; a very tough, resilient young man,” conservation officer Murray Booth said. “Everyone will be somewhat shaken, but everyone's in good spirits.”
The attack happened Monday morning during a walk along a trail outside a remote family cabin near Marshall Lake, about 85 kilometres west of Lillooet, B.C.
The boy was with two women and three other children, ranging from age 10 to 13.
At one point, the boy ran ahead of the group and that’s when the cougar pounced.
“Out nowhere the cougar dropped out of a tree, landed on the trail and took a swipe at the young lad,” said Booth. “When the cougar took a swipe at him, it did hit the lad. The young fella fell down and started rolling down the hill, or the trail, as you can see it's very steep.”
Booth said the big cat scratched the boy’s back and chest and it didn’t stop until a family pet leapt into action.
“The dog saved the day,” he said. “The border collie jumped on top of the cougar, and did the attack, the cougar retreated a ways away.”
Once the cougar stepped back, the group started to scream and throw rocks at it, Booth said.
He said it’s “highly unusual” for such an attack to have happened, adding in his 20-year career, it’s the first time a cougar has jumped from a tree to swipe at a person.
Since the big cat hasn’t been captured, it’s unknown what condition it’s in.
Cougar believed to be long gone: CO
Two canine handlers with the BC Conservation Officer Service, their pack of hounds and a third conservation officer were dispatched to the area Monday.
Because of the remote location, they weren’t able to reach the area until that evening.
When they got the chance, the conservation officers and four to six canines went searching for the cougar the next morning.
“The dogs picked up a lot of scent -- a lot of cougar scent, but it was from the previous day, it wasn't that day. They ran the dogs for approximately five hours without treeing or catching the cougar,” Booth said.
The officers attended the scene again on Wednesday and this time, no cougar scent.
Consequently, the operation has now been scaled back.
A bait and camera have been set up to catch any cougar activity, but so far, there have been no more sightings.
“The public is definitely not at risk at this point. There's been no sign of the cougar at the baits. There has been no sign of the cougar in the neighborhood. With the dogs chasing it, I think it's gone a long ways away,” Booth said.
After a few more days, conservation officers will reassess. Booth said it is likely the bait and camera will be removed to ensure the bait doesn’t unintentionally attract another predator.