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Dog walker in near miss with cougar on popular West Vancouver hike

A cougar growled at a dog walker from some bushes on the Eagle Lake access Road near Cypress Falls Park.

Sandra's pack of dogs she walks with her company Alpha Dog Pet Care
Sandra's pack of dogs she walks with her company Alpha Dog Pet Care

A dog walker had a close encounter with a cougar on a popular dog-friendly West Vancouver hike after it growled at her from some bushes.

Sandra Smith was walking her dogs near Cypress Falls Park on the Eagle Lake access road last week when she heard growls coming from the woodland.

She said: “A quarter of the way up I heard a growling noise to my right and saw a cougar's head sort of peer from the bushes. I feverishly told my dogs to follow me and we quickly went back down the paved road.”

She said she quickly notified the West Vancouver parks department asking them to post a sign in the area warning other park users, as well as posting in various other Facebook pages to let others know of the sighting.

Sandra and one of her dogs
Sandra and one of her dogs

The mountains of the North Shore and West Vancouver are home to several cougars, however sightings are rare as they can usually only be spotted when they are most active between dusk and dawn, according to the District of West Vancouver.

However they can be seen at all times of the day and park users should be prepared for a cougar encounter whenever in the mountains.

A spokeswoman for the District of West Vancouver said parks staff had received an additional report of a cougar sighting in the area.

She added: “Our park rangers have deployed 2 cougar signs in the area which will be deployed for 1 week, unless we receive additional reports of the cougar still present in the area.”

If you see a cougar, you should:

  • Stay calm

  • Pick up children and small pets immediately

  • Make yourself look large

  • Maintain eye contact, and keep the cougar in sight

  • Speak to it in a loud firm voice

  • Slowly back away, never turn your back

  • Give the cougar space and a clear exit route from the area

If approached or attacked by a cougar, you should:

  • Be big, brave, and loud! Show the cougar you are not food and use a loud firm tone to say, “Go away cougar!”

  • Maintain eye contact

  • Make yourself look large and aggressive by putting your arms in the air, or holding up an item that you have with you such as a bike or backpack

  • Throw sticks or rocks if possible (avoid crouching for very long while you find them)

  • Prepare your bear spray or deterrent if you have it and know how to use it safely

  • Slowly distance yourself (fast movements could trigger a natural chase response)

  • If attacked, fight with everything you have. Focus on the eyes and face.

The District of West Vancouver also recommends hiking in groups when in the mountains and avoiding prolonged silence, as well as ensuring you aren’t using headphones and are aware of your surroundings.

The District also recommends keeping pets on a short leash and children in close sight when on the trails.


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