August 16, 2018 1:35 pm
Updated: August 16, 2018 7:20 pm

Father fights off cougar, child injured in Fernie, B.C., attack

File photo.

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A man was forced to fight a cougar after it attacked his four-year-old son during a family fishing trip near Fernie, B.C.

“They were fishing and moving along the creek, [and the] father looked back and witnessed the cougar on his son,” said B.C. Conservation Officer service inspector Joe Caravetta.

The unprovoked attack happened on Aug. 12 at around 1 p.m. local time in the Lower Morrissey Creek area, he said.

The man kicked and punched the cougar until it retreated, he said.

However, the cougar didn’t go far.

“[The] cougar didn’t run away, just stayed within a close distance of the family as they retreated,” Caravetta said.

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The child was taken to the hospital and was treated for puncture wounds and lacerations.  He was later released, Caravetta said.

He added that conservation officers were on scene quickly after receiving word of the attack.

“We were there within two and a half to three hours with all our staff and cougar hounds,” he said.

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Officers and the search dogs couldn’t locate the cat due to the hot and smoky conditions at the time, he said.  But he added there’s no immediate threat to the public.

If the cat is found, it will be euthanized, he said.

“[This is] not the type of behaviour we see from a cougar,” he said, adding it “could be a very young cat [and was] having a difficult time finding food.”

Most cougars are nocturnal and avoid humans, he said.

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The family is asking for privacy he said.

Should people encounter these animals, Caravetta said don’t run away.  Instead, stand tall, make noise and back away slowly.

It’s also a good idea to carry bear spray, he said.

Additional cougar safety tips are available on the Wild B.C. and Alberta government environment and parks websites.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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