CALGARY – Elvis Xerri was asleep in his underwear when he heard his girlfriend’s Bernese Mountain Dog yelping at 3 a.m. Monday. He ran out of bed, expecting to see a coyote, but instead came upon a cougar attacking Boomer on his property in Priddis, Alta.
“Before I knew it, I’m on top of the cougar. I don’t know why I did that. It was crazy. It gives me chills to think about it now.”
Xerri said he saw the animals trying to bite at each other’s necks, and so he tried to pull them apart.
“I was on top of the cougar, digging my fingers into its ribs,” he said. “I just grabbed onto its skin as hard as I could and just threw it over. It landed maybe five feet away but then the cougar came straight at the dog again, and bit the dog on its head.”
Xerri said when he saw Boomer’s head in the cougar’s mouth, he yelled and tried to jump on the cougar a second time. He said the animal dodged him, and ran off into the trees.
“There was a point in time where time didn’t exist—I was just on top of this thing. This thing’s a cougar, this thing can kill me, and I’m like basically naked. I’ve got no protection. But I was just so angry, because nobody hurts your family.”
Xerri said his girlfriend’s nine-year-old dog has two puncture wounds on his skull and a few lacerations, but is playing and “walking around like it never happened.”
Fish and Wildlife officials have been contacted with a report of the incident, and a government spokesperson said the department provided tips to prevent such incidents in the future.
“Officers continue to monitor the situation, and if the public sees any more cougars or other dangerous wildlife, they are encouraged to report the sightings in a timely manner to the 24-hour Report A Poacher hotline at 1-800-642-380,” said Alberta Justice department spokesperson Dan Laville in an email to Global News.
He said sightings of cougars in that area are not unusual, and overall “cougar activity is fairly normal” and offered the following tips:
- When outdoors in cougar or bear country, make a lot of noise to avoid surprise encounters with cougars, or other wildlife;
- Carry bear spray and know how to use it;
- Do not wear your mp3 player or anything else that might interfere with your ability to see clearly or hear the sounds that can alert you to the presence of wildlife;
- Always keep your dog close and on leash;
- Walk in a group and keep children close;
- Never run away from cougars or show fear by screaming;
- Always fight back and never give up if a cougar makes contact.
Xerri said he felt the experience tested what he was made of—something he wouldn’t have known without being in such a position.