A Vancouver Island man didn’t think twice when he punched a cougar in the face to rescue his puppy.
The alarming incident happened on Friday when Langford’s Shawn Hanson was just about to clean his day’s catch at Salmon Beach near Ucluelet.
“I hear a yelp and see it dragging the puppy off into the bushes,” Hanson wrote on a public Facebook group, warning other Islanders about local cougar, wolf, and bear sightings.
His one-year-old miniature dachshund, Bailey, who had been sitting by Hanson, was quickly snatched by the predator and carried off into thick brush.
“Without thinking I chase in after it, catching up as it stops to see what is following. I grab Bailey with one hand, punch the cougar in the face with the other, and it release its grip on her neck,” he wrote.
Hanson then left Bailey with his partner and made a sprint to his truck to grab a 12-gauge shotgun and a box of shells. He made his way back to the spot where he hit the cougar.
“It was looking right at me, took a couple quick steps towards me, and was within 10-15 feet and closing,” described Hanson. Then he shot the cougar dead.
Conservation officers later arrived to collect the animal, and warned there was a bigger cougar prowling in the same area.
Tara Kerner, who was with Hanson at the time, said officers explained dry weather makes hunting more difficult for cougars because they make more noise with their paws crunching dry leaves and sticks while stalking.
They soon start to get desperate and go after dogs and cats, she was told.
Hanson and commenters in the Facebook thread voiced their sympathies for the dead animal, concluding the young cougar must have been starving.
“It was obviously really hungry,” Hanson told the Westerly News. “It was pretty scrawny, skin and bones, and its hair was pretty shabby so it hadn’t been getting the nutrition it needed,” he said, adding it was a “ballsy” move for the animal to grab Bailey and later confront him in the bush.
People who encounter cougars are urged to never take their eyes away from the animal and to make themselves look big to deter any possible advances.
As for Bailey, a full recovery is expected after she was treated for some puncture wounds and a swollen neck.
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