I'm not one to write to the paper and whine. But the front page news on Saturday (Cougar Crashes Backyard Party) caught my eye and I could not let the sick feeling in my gut go away.
I have lived in Westsyde all my 33 years. I was raised an outdoorsy kind of girl; hiking, camping, snowmobiling, etc.
When I had my first child 13 years ago, I took every opportunity to show her what a beautiful country we live in. I followed my upbringing, knowing the woods like the back of my hand and loving the openness of our "backyard."
I am not naive, my father taught me very well of the dangers out there. I remember very clearly one time hiking with him to Deep Lake, before the new subdivision, as we were under a bunch of trees (those trees are now gone) just starting our hike he said, "This part always makes me nervous, I always look up in these trees and think, ‘This is where a cougar would lay and stalk.’”
I have been hiking these hills all my life. I now have three children and still live in Westsyde. I introduced my good friend to hiking Deep Lake, being my favourite spot, a number of months ago.
She has been living here for 15 years, but has been too afraid of hiking. I explained to her my experience hiking and the animals I've come across; bears, wolves, coyotes, etc. and said the one animal that scares me is the cougar . . . but I've never seen one up here.
On our way back down the hill, we checked out the new construction at the top (which overlooks her backyard) and a gentleman there said there was a cougar on the top of the cliff a couple days ago.
As much as it worried me, I was not going to stop my favourite form of exercise, I'd just be more careful and make sure I make lots of noise and have my buck knife (which I always do).
Four or five days later I headed up my favourite hill again. This time, when I approached Deep Lake, I decided to connect with the Trans Mountain Pipeline (which is another of my favourite hikes — the Westyde ridges). I was by myself, which is new for me as we just lost our beloved dog.
I was approximately above Dever Drive in the mountains when I saw my first cougar. I followed my instincts, and all my father taught me, and got away safely. I posted signs at the entrances to Deep Lake informing fellow hikers of my cougar sighting.
I have not seen one since and continue to hike. Saturday’s news disturbs me greatly. I would not be surprised if this is the same cougar that has been sighted several times in the Westsyde area. This cat may be getting very used to humans, which is obviously a very frightening thought. I hope the conservation officer is made aware of the sightings.
I thought I should add my 10 cents.