Cougar encounter captured on video by Alberta runner
Ultra marathoner Donny Stone had a close call with a pair of cougars while out on a training run
Donny Stone hoped to one day see a cougar in the wild, but not quite like this.
The ultra-marathoner's first encounter with the species came while he was out on a 10-kilometre training run Tuesday near his work camp about 100 kilometres southeast of Grande Prairie, Alta.
"I looked up ahead and saw two cougars on the trail, and they saw me and then they moved into the bush," Stone said.
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Prepared for such a possibility, the experienced trail runner readied his bear spray in one hand and a bear banger and a mobile phone set to record video in the other.
"So I just carried on and started filming," he said. "I was kind of hoping that I would actually see them. I was thinking more that they would just be hanging out in the bush, watching me go by."
Stone said that's how the wild animals have typically behaved when other ultra-marathoners have encountered them, but it's not how things played out in this case.
'He was on a dead run'
"All of a sudden, I heard the leaves rustle and it was instantaneously that I just spun ... and saw him there," Stone recounted.
"He was on a dead run at me — a dead run, but a low prowl, like almost a ready-to-pounce kind of thing. That's right when I spun and shot him with the spray."
Stone said the blast of bear spray warded the first cougar off but then he noticed the second animal was still walking parallel to him in the bush next to the trail.
Another blast deterred that one too, and both cougars retreated into the forest before Stone made his way back to the work camp.
Cougar populations increasing
Cougar encounters aren't common but it's not unheard of for the animals to get mixed up with humans, according to Mark Boyce, an ecology professor at the University of Alberta.
"It's to be expected given the expanding cougar population," Boyce previously told CBC News. "Also, young males just do strange things and show up in strange places."
Cougars can be found in all parts of Alberta, Boyce noted, and the Cypress Hills in the southeastern part of the province is home to the highest density of cougars in North America.
"In general, they're not dangerous at all," he said. "They're so sneaky that you oftentimes don't know they're there. It's unusual, in fact, that you know one's stalking you or watching you."
- The above video slows down the speedy encounter and highlights the cougar that charged Stone. Below is a fuller version of the raw video.