Cougar Sighting

Definitely NOT a deer.

When Ryan Mitchell stopped to view what he thought was a deer

vl lying down in a vacant lot across from Little Beach in Ucluelet f around 7 p.m. Thursday, he was startled to see a cougar raise its head.

“It was just laying there in the grass. It was just looking around, i it wasn’t doing anything,” he said. “It was relaxing.”

Mitchell estimates the cat was at l least five feet long in the body, not counting its tail.

“It was huge,” he said. When Mitchell, watching from his van about 100 feet away, made

h a noise to let the animal know he was there, it turned its head, then eventually got up slowly and left.

“After a couple minutes I made a noise … It turned its head after I made the noise, and looked right in my direction,” he said. “It sat up from a laying position, and then it slowly wandered off,” he said.

Mitchell hails from Kamloops.

He is a fisheries and aquaculture major at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, working for Archipelago Marine Research for the summer.

He said the creature looked perfectly healthy and well-fed.

“It looked like it wasn’t worried about what was going on around it at all,” he said.

While his first thought was “Cool, a cougar sighting,” his next thought was concern for foot traffic in the area.

“I told people walking by there was a cougar in the area and they should probably go inside,” he said.

Mitchell contacted the BC Conservation Office and they asked about the cougar’s demeanour – if it appeared curious or threatening or just relaxed.

He said he believes the animal is in town for the deer.

“It doesn’t really bother me that they’re there. Living out here, we’re in the middle of the forest. We’ve just got to be cautious – I’m a little more cautious now that I’ve actually seen one in town,” he said.

“If it wanted to hurt people, I think it would have gone after people.”