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Cougar encounter spurs park trail closure

B.C. Parks move seen as temporary precaution
September 23, 2016 4:44 P.M.
Hiker overlooks valley from Battle Bluffs with city in background.

A popular hiking trail above Kamloops Lake remains temporarily closed after several reported cougar sightings.

It was a family’s encounter with one cougar in particular last weekend that led B.C. Parks to post a closure of the Battle Bluffs train in the Dewdrop Ecological Reserve.

“Apparently, it was reported that there was a cougar stalking some people hiking up there,” said Dana Eye of WildSafeBC. “I think they’re concerned with the high activity of people up there.”

The family had a four-year-old child along for the hike when they noticed that the cougar, a young animal that appeared to be in poor health, was showing no fear. They immediately picked up the child.

Cougars generally leave adults alone but have been known to attack young children and unaccompanied pets.

“They did everything right,” Eye said of the family. “They thought it was a young or skinny looking cougar.”

The trail, which connects Frederick Road with bluffs overlooking Kamloops Lake, is normally used by dozens of hikers on a typical weekend.

“I’m sure it’s only temporary, just to be cautious, especially with young kids,” Eye added.

Cougars normally keep well away from people. If one shows interest or aggression, the general advice is to stand your ground and not turn your back to the animal. Pepper spray is also recommended as added insurance.

A number of cougar sightings were reported in the area of the city last winter. One animal, an older male, was shot by conservation officers in February near Little Fawn Daycare on the Tk'emlups reserve.

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