Ucluelet man chases cougar out of his house

Ted Benson was getting ready for bed on Jan. 6 when his cat walked in, followed closely by a cougar.

 â€œIt was weird, there was no sound, no nothing, it was eerily quiet and just all of a sudden I see my cat squirt in and, next thing you know, all I hear is claws trotting across concrete,” Benson told the Westerly.

“My cat wasn’t sprinting at super-human top-speed and neither was the cougar; it was like slow motion: ‘oh there’s my cat,’ and then ‘oh there’s a big cat trying to eat it.”

The 37 year-old local had opened the front door of his Norah Street residence to air his place out after having his wood stove burning all evening.

He went into his bedroom around 10:45 p.m. to plug his cell phone in and was walking back into the living room to close the door when he saw his housecat come in from outside.

“Then, all of a sudden, I heard claws on the cement floor and saw a big head lunging to eat my cat,” he said. “I thought it was a dog originally; a cougar would be the last thing I’d expect.”

Benson lunged at the animal to scare it away before discovering he was not dealing with a dog at all.

 â€œAs soon as I realized it was a cougar I just charged it and got as big as I could and tried to make loud bear sounds to scare it away,” he said.

He said the situation unfolded too fast to think and his survival instincts took over.

“It was just instantaneous. I don’t know what happened, I just automatically tried to charge it and acted big because it’s in my domain, it’s in my house, I’ve got to get this thing out of here,” he said.

 â€œIf I had of thought about it I probably would have been attacked because I would have been scared…it was already in predator mode going after my cat so if I had backed up it probably would have pounced.”

After his initial scare tactics failed to scare the cougar off Benson upped his intimidation level.

“I got louder and tried to act more aggressive…I was just basically lunging at it; it was one or two feet away at most,” he said.

“You can’t act scared, you’ve got to definitely fight for your life. If you show you’re bigger than them and shout and try to intimidate them, they don’t want to get hurt…They want the easiest way to get a meal and not have to risk their lives.”

Remembering a tip he had heard from loggers, Benson kept constant eye contact with the animal.

“I looked it straight in the eyes,” he said.

“I remembered loggers saying that they used to have eyes painted on the back of their logger helmets… a cougar won’t attack if you’re staring at it; I’ve heard many a logger say that.”

The cougar eventually sauntered off and, as it walked away, Benson got a solid look at the animal’s impressive stature.

“He, kind of, smoothly turned around, not in a hurry, and just trotted out,” Benson said.

 â€œAs it was walking away I’m like ‘Holy, that’s a big cat,’ you could almost feel the physical muscle vibrations from the thing twitching with each step it’s taking as it’s leaving the house.”

Once the cat was outside, Benson rushed to slam his door shut and saw Lesley Poirier of Ucluelet Taxi honking her taxi’s horn in his driveway.

“Lesley stopping in the cab and honking probably helped a lot because that added a lot more noise and commotion where the cat was probably like ‘OK, I’ve got to get out of here this could be dangerous,’” Benson said.

He said he watched the departing cougar walk towards a second cougar that was sitting in his driveway and he believes the two cougars had been hunting together when they spotted his housecat.

The experience was so foreign to Benson that he had a hard time accepting it had actually happened until he heard Poirier’s account of watching the cougar walk into his house.

“After it happened I thought, ‘did that just happen really or am I dreaming or something,” he said.

He has reported the incident to the BC Conservation Officer Service and believes the two cougars have become habituated and will be euthanized.

“I definitely got the impression staring into the cougar’s face that it wasn’t afraid of humans. It didn’t freak out and turn around immediately it was just like ‘meh, alright I’m out of here,’ and just trotted off; it wasn’t in a hurry by any means,” he said.

Benson said he leaves his front door open often but will likely alter this routine after coming face to face with a cougar.

“People live here their whole lives and never see a cougar so this is a pretty rare exception and hopefully it’s the last one. I don’t really feel like seeing one face to face without the benefit of a fence,” he said.

“It was a really neat experience but I’m obviously glad it went the way it did because I could have easily been fending for my life and having to worry about four paws with big claws and some big teeth getting a hold of me.”

 reporter@westerlynews.ca