It could have been a scene from Wild Kingdom.
Three cougars emerge from the long grass, seemingly stalking some nearby wild deer. One cougar takes off, chasing a deer but eventually fails to capture its prey.
Except it didn’t happen on Wild Kingdom or Animal Planet, it happened in the front yard of Courtenay, B.C. resident Cam Jones.
Jones said he was inside his home, looking out his window when three cougars came wandering into his front yard on Wednesday morning.
“They were looking in the tall grass where a family of deer is bedded down and the next thing you know, one of the cougars chased a deer right across the yard,” Jones said.
“He eventually came back, panting and out of breath and he actually walked right up past my living room window and around the side of the house and by another window.”
That’s when Jones snapped a few photos — from a safe distance. He said he’s spied a cougar in the distance before but in other places and never three at once.
North Island Conservation Officer Steve Petrovcic said wherever you have black-tailed deer in the area, they usually make up a significant percentage of a cougar’s diet.
Even though some wildlife experts would consider this a rare sighting, Petrovcic said it was not out of the norm.
“I suspect it may be a female with a couple of young and she’s getting them used to hunting prey,” Petrovcic said.
“And certainly with all these nice green spaces within our communities, they certainly serve as wildlife corridors. So at times we will have bears, cougars and even the odd wolf make its way into the community through green spaces.”
READ MORE about Cougar sightings in Canada
For Jones, it was the first time he’s spotted a cougar so close to his house and at this time of day.
“We just moved in [about one and a half months ago]… and we have a lot of deer and a lot of rabbits,” Jones said. “I guess the cougars could smell the deer in the neighbourhood and just came cruising through.”
Petrovcic said Jones encounter with the trio of felines sounded like a unique sighting opportunity but that people have to be very cautious if the cougar starts exhibiting threatening or aggressive behaviour. That’s when you’ll need to change your tactic by stopping your movement, and make yourself look big and menacing. The last thing you want to do, Petrovcic said, is run. Instead you want to let them know you’re not a prey species. Raise your arms and look large before slowly backing away and keeping your eyes on the cat.
It’s also important for people to report the sighting to the Conservation Office (1-877-952-7277).
Jones said he wasn’t afraid of seeing the three cougars and that he and his wife greatly enjoy the wildlife surrounding their home. Besides, he said, “the wildlife was here before us and we’re living in their neighbourhood.”