Nfld. & Labrador

Woman udderly terrified when cows stampeded her East Coast Trail campsite

Penny Maguire is chuckling about it now, but at the time, she was afraid she'd be trampled.

'I just lay there, holding my phone and just praying that I survived'

Penny Maguire, right, and her son, Sam Maguire, began hiking the East Coast Trail on Aug. 15. (Penny Maguire/Facebook)

She worried about running into bears, but Penny Maguire never thought it'd be cows that would give her the scare of a lifetime during her East Coast Trail adventure.

"I just lay there, holding my phone and just praying that I survived," she said.

Maguire, 57, lives in Barrie, Ont., and started hiking the East Coast Trail on Aug. 15 with her 25-year-old son, Sam Maguire.

On Saturday night, she said they were tucked away in separate tents at Small Point along the Stiles Cove Path near Pouch Cove.

Maguire said she and her son were camping along Stiles Cove Path when the cows showed up on Saturday night. (Penny Maguire/facebook)

"I was just lying there thinking, 'This is my happy place,'" she said.

But then, she said, she heard them.

"It was like thunder coming through the forest. I knew it was animals, and I knew it was big animals."

She heard branches snapping under their weight and, as they got closer, she heard them sniffing, grunting and breathing, pushing themselves into the walls of her tent.

"I was just waiting for them to step on top of the tent, and I was petrified," she said.

Thinking it had to be moose, she said she kept her phone clutched to her chest, afraid any light might scare them and cause them to charge.

Son shooed them away

Her son was about 20 metres away in his tent listening to music with noise-cancelling earbuds, she said.

It wasn't until he pulled out a bud that he heard the snuffing and stomping of a pack of large animals sniffing around his mother's tent.

He grabbed a light, climbed out of his tent and began calling out, she said, ultimately shooing them away.

Penny Maguire can laugh about the experience now, but says she was terrified as it was happening. (Penny Maguire/Facebook)

Her son told her that one of the animals had a ring in its nose and that it was was staring him down. But the animal turned, butted its head against another cow, and the two of them led the rest away, she said.

She called out to her son to ask if it had been moose, she said, and he told her no, that it was four or five cows.

She's now able to laugh about the experience, but it took a about a day to get there, she said.

"I sure wouldn't want that experience to happen to another person."

'I never thought I'd be dealing with a cow issue'

Maguire isn't the only one surprised by a bovine burden.

"I never thought I'd be dealing with a cow issue," said Cape St. Francis MHA Kevin Parsons.

He said he's been dealing with complaints about cows on the loose in the Pouch Cove area for about a month and a half, but that the animals have been a problem for much longer than that.

"It's a real issue. It's just gone beyond."

The cows belong to Joe Tapper, he said, who wasn't available to comment to CBC News. Parsons said the cows live on a pasture in the area and are constantly breaking through the fence.

They'll roam around the area, winding up on the front lawns of homes and schools, leaving cow patties and hoof prints, and damaging property, he said. Then they'll be caught and put back in the enclosure.

"And then within a few days or a week, the cows are back out again."

A resident of Pouch Cove who asked not to be identified submitted this photo of one of the escaped cows. (Submitted)

Parsons said he's been talking to the town and to other MHAs to figure out a solution.

He wants the cows to be taken away until the owner can prove that the fence has been adequately repaired, he said.

As the school year approaches, the problem is more pressing, he said.

The cows have even shown up at Cape St. Francis Elementary School. (Cara AE/Twitter)

The animals have wound at nearby Cape St. Francis elementary school before and he's worried about the safety of the kids.

Well, safety and mess.

"The mess that cows leave behind, you don't want them stamping in none of that stuff, either."

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