B.C. cougar attacks toddler
An 18-month-old child was attacked by a cougar at Pacific Rim National Park, near Ucluelet on Vancouver Island, Monday evening.
Rene Wissink, manager of resource conservation at the park, said the attack occurred at about 6 p.m. PT Monday on the beach of a popular day-use area at Kennedy Lake, 16 kilometres east of the community of Ucluelet.
Wissink said the child's family appears to have done everything right to scare off the animal.
"When the attack occurred, they stood their ground, they made a lot of noise, they frightened the cat off right away so the contact was very, very brief," he said.
The child required surgery and is reportedly doing well. The child's parents say they don't wish to speak publicly yet and will focus on remaining at their toddler's bedside.
Wissink said park officials are currently trying to track down the animal.
"We do, at the moment, have several teams out including a dog team which is attempting to locate this cougar which when found will be destroyed as a result of the public safety threat that it poses."
Four conservation officers and a volunteer dog team are on the ground assisting park officials, said a spokesperson for the B.C. Ministry of Environment.
The Kennedy Lake day use area has been closed to the public. All other areas of the national park reserve remain open.
Officials say a wolf and cougar advisory has been in effect in the area since Aug. 13 because of a "recent increase in carnivore activity in the area."
Visitors heading to areas where cougars might be present are advised to keep dogs on leash at all times, and carry pepper spray and an air horn.
With files from The Canadian Press