A hiker who was stalked by a cougar near Sooke escaped by hitting the animal with an axe, authorities said.
The man was hiking in a remote area of the Sooke Hills, above Pascoe Road, Thursday afternoon when the cougar began stalking and following him.
The hiker jumped over a log to get away, but the mountain lion came after him and that’s when the man hit him with a hatchet to escape.
The hiker was not injured.
“The man got out of there quickly and when he looked back the cougar was still there,” said conservation officer Scott Norris.
“The cougar didn’t follow him, didn’t chase him down the mountain, and didn’t continue to stalk him.”
Conservation officers with a dog team searched the area Friday morning and did pick up the cougar’s scent, but didn’t find the animal.
“It’s likely it vacated the area. Cougars have large home ranges. It might be back in that area tomorrow, next week, or not for a month,” Norris said on Friday.
Norris added the risk to the public is quite low, as the man was not on a hiking trail, but high up in the hills where there is not a lot of public access.
“It’s a very rare occurrence when cougars approach people, and it may have just been curiosity.”