Cougars have been sighted in East Sooke and one is believed to have killed a dog.

Cougars have been sighted in East Sooke and one is believed to have killed a dog.

Cougars are among us

East Sooke resident loses beloved family pet to cougar

A local man is reminding the community that Sooke is part of cougar country, after one of the large, predatory cats attacked and killed his dog in East Sooke Regional Park on Feb. 5.

“Be aware and take precautions, and keep dogs on leash as much as possible,” Pierre Rousseau said, adding parents should also be vigilant of their children when hiking through the park.

“It’s not that I want any action against cougars, it’s just I want people to be aware that they (cougars])are there and that they come close to people,” he said.

The warning comes as a cautionary tale, as the East Sooke man had to learn the lesson the hard way.

Rousseau, 62, was on one of his regular walks with his beloved 10-year-old Brittany spaniel, Misha.

According to Rousseau, the walk was one of hundreds the dog had been on in East Sooke Regional Park. The dog was accustomed to her surroundings, as a result she was let off leash a short five to 10 meters from Rousseau on Babbington Trail between Anderson Dove and Park Heights trail.     The day turned for the worst when Misha was out of sight. The behaviour was unordinary as the dog never strayed far from her owners. Rousseau then heard the bell on her collar rattle into the distance.

“I was wondering why is she going away, and started yelling, ‘Misha, come back,’” he said. When the dog did not return, Rousseau walked off the trail in search of her.

“I went out of the trail and I could hear the bell going a bit further, and I was calling and I said, ‘What’s going on?’”

Rousseau had no inkling Misha was attacked by a cougar, until he heard her yelp. Realizing a cougar may be close, Rousseau went home to fetch pepper spray in order to safely continue his search.

He searched for about five hours, walking a far distance from the trail in hopes of finding Misha. But as dusk approached, he had to return home.

It was on the second search the next morning when the family found the dog’s remains about 10 to 15 feet from the trail. The body was in a “cache” of debris, indicating it was indeed a cougar kill.

“I thought because I was hearing the bell, I thought she was walking, but then later I learned she was being dragged away,” Rousseau said.

He believes they were stalked by the cougar, which later targeted the small dog.  Rousseau had no indication he was being stalked, hearing and seeing nothing.

“We never thought that this would happen so close to us,” he said. “I had never anticipated they (cougars) would stalk us in any event.”

The loss has been hard for Rousseau and his wife, as the pair spent the first five years of their retirement daily with Misha.

“It becomes a part of the family,” he said. “You always think it’s not going to happen to you.”

Rousseau said this is the second cougar attack in recent months on a dog in the area.

According to conservation officer Rick Dekelver, there have been 80 cougar calls in the Sooke area this year. In total, there have been 2,000 reported cougar encounters on the Island.

Dekelver said in the event of a cougar encounter, you should stand your ground, making loud noises and making yourself appear larger.

“Turning and running… increases the predator-prey response, kind of showing the animal you’re submissive,” he said, adding fleeing could provoke the cougar to chase.

The elusive cats are most active during dawn and dusk, but are active at all hours of the day.

Dekelver encouraged residents to report cougar and other dangerous wildlife sightings at 1-877- 952-7277.

Just Posted

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Victoria police continue to look for missing man Tyrone Goertzen and are once again asking for the public’s assistance in locating him. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Victoria police put out another call for help finding missing man

Tyrone Goertzen, 33, was first reported missing June 4

Rachel Rivera (left) and Claire Ouchi are a dynamic art duo known as the WKNDRS. The two painted the new road mural at Uptown. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Artistic mural at Uptown brings creativity, fun to summer shoppers in Saanich

Road installation the largest of its kind in Greater Victoria

Kathy and Doug LaFortune stand next to the new welcome pole now gracing the front entrance of KELSET Elementary School in North Saanich. LaFortune completed the piece after suffering a stroke with the help of his wife and son Bear. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
KELSET school in North Saanich unveils welcome pole on National Indigenous Peoples Day

Carver Doug LaFortune completed pole with the help of his son, wife after suffering a stroke

Colwood council is looking at potential summer weekend closures to traffic of a section of Ocean Boulevard at Esquimalt Lagoon, to allow for more of a park-like setting during summer events such as the popular Eats & Beats event, shown here in 2018. (Black Press Media file photo)
Mayor lobbying for summer weekend closures of beachfront Colwood roadway

Rob Martin to bring motion forward to June 28 council meeting

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

Bernadette Jordan addresses the media following a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on January 14, 2019. Jordan says the government will provide $2 million to allow First Nations to continue to strengthen the marine safety system across Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
First Nations receive federal funds to purchase marine rescue boats

Quatsino, Heiltsuk, and Kitasoo First Nation’s among eight across Canada to receive funding

Most Read