As I mentioned earlier, when I first moved to Monkey Valley I did some research to find out about cougars, consulting my handy Mammals of British Columbia. But recently I came across a great pamphlet put out by the BC Ministry of Environment, Land and Parks and the BC Ministry of Forests, called Safety Guide to Cougars. This has information that finally put my fears to rest, once and for all. (That is, in combination with my own direct experience of the paucity of cougar encounters, detailed earlier in this thread.)
The pamphlet begins, “British Columbians are fortunate to share their province with cougars, one of the most mysterious and elusive of all creatures. The cougar’s secretive habits and astounding predatory abilities—a cougar is capable of killing a 600 lb moose—have resulted in a wealth of misconceptions and irrational fears.”
According to this government publication, in the past 100 years, only five people have been killed by cougars in BC. To put this in perspective, at least three people are killed by bees in Canada every year! The tiny bee is much more of a threat than the wild, magnificent cougar. Of those five who were killed, four deaths occurred on Vancouver Island.
There have also been 29 non-fatal cougar attacks in BC in the past 100 years, with 20 of them occurring on Vancouver Island. And the vast majority of cougar attacks were on children under 16 years of age.
While I might be suspicious of some things the government tells the populace, in this case I believe they would err on the side of caution. These facts are intended to reassure, and I find that they do. I am not running on Vancouver Island. I am not a child. The chances of having an encounter with a cougar are miniscule, and the chances of being attacked even lower. Given that I’ve already seen one from my car, that may be the only encounter I have with a cougar in my entire lifetime.
This has set my mind at ease. I hope hearing my story has soothed your fears as well, dear reader and potential visitor to Monkey Valley. In the next posting I will tell you some more facts about how to handle a cougar encounter if you ever have one… (to be continued)