British Columbia

Cougar stalked 2-year-old boy before and after attack

The cougar that attacked a two-year-old near Mission, B.C., on Monday was likely stalking the boy before the attack and pursued him afterwards.

Witness chased cougar from parking lot into the woods

Hikers are warned to never turn their backs on a cougar and run. (Dave Hobson)

The cougar that attacked a two-year-old near Mission on Monday was likely stalking the boy before the attack and pursued him afterwards, according to a conservation officer.

"The cougar followed them to the parking lot and would not leave," said Sgt. Todd Hunter with the B.C. Conservation Service. 

"Once they focus in on a prey and attack, they are all in." he said.

The group — two children and a woman — were heading down a trail toward the parking lot in Cascade Falls Park near Mission, B.C., late Monday afternoon when the attack happened.

The boy suffered a puncture wound to his arm, as well as some scratches to his back but wasn't hospitalized.

Witness heard yelling coming from the trail 

The woman made loud noises to fend off the cougar during the attack. A witness in the parking lot heard the yelling and watched as the cougar "persisted down the trail after them" according to Hunter. The witness chased the cougar off into the bushes with their vehicle.

Hunter said the cougar was likely a young juvenile that hasn't yet honed its abilities to prey and hunt.

Off-leash dogs are known to be a problem too, according to Hunter, because they can provoke wildlife.

"We have seen it before, especially on attacks on children, that a dog has been nearby," he said

Cascade Falls Park near Mission, B.C., remains closed as the investigation continues (Travel British Columbia)

Cougars are carnivorous and usually hunt deer. They stalk an animal and then use a series of bounds to leap on their prey. Using both their sharp claws and powerful jaws they can quickly kill most prey, according to WildSafeBC.

"The best thing to do before going out in the woods — or even in your backyard in British Columbia is — expect to have an encounter with wildlife and know what to do. It can happen anywhere," said Hunter.

If you encounter a cougar, WildSafeBC suggests you keep calm, make yourself look as large as possible and back away slowly, Never run or turn your back because sudden movements may provoke an attack.

"Cougars — how they make their living — is by running prey," said Hunter.

Cascade Falls Park remains closed as officers investigate.