Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Summertime on Vancouver Island, Just Another Day in Paradise

A lot of people on this island rarely think of how we share it with some amazing wildlife including a number of "alpha" predators.  Their ranks include everything from golden eagles to wolves and bears to the greatest concentration of cougars on the planet.

I've had a backwoods run in with a cougar.  Fortunately the big cat wasn't hungry or, if it was, didn't find the look of me very appetizing.  One hot summer evening I was awakened from a sound sleep by the very loud purring of a creature outside my open bedroom window.  Of course, it was a cougar, the biggest cat that purrs (and, hands down the loudest).

In recent conversations with people living out of town, I've heard three mention an unusual number of sightings of cougars on our backroads.  Like the bears and wolves they're coming out of the forests and they're hungry.

Still, especially for drylanders, it makes for some good story telling.

Fortunately for that fellow he encountered a pretty small cat.  It'd be a lot harder to punch out a big one.

And they can be bold as brass, even when you're out trying to get a salmon for dinner.


Anonymous said...

Mound, what is the ratio of humans/cougars on the Island?
Just wondering...

The Mound of Sound said...

The wildlife service says there are more than a thousand cougar on the island. The population is slightly under 750,000 but 360,000 of that is concentrated in the extreme southern tip, the Greater Victoria district. The big cats avoid the major urban areas. They do, however, wander into small towns like my own, especially when they're hungry. Just excluding greater Victoria, that would leave a ratio of about 350 people to 1 cat. That also explains why somewhere about 80% of the cougar attacks on humans in BC occur on the island.

We've also got about 7,000 black bears. Wolves, once hunted almost to extinction, are slowing coming back. Brown bears (grizzlies) are over on the mainland but there have been a few sightings of new arrivals on the island in recent years. One scourge we don't have are coyotes which, from what I've read, are even showing up in significant numbers in Toronto.

The Mound of Sound said...

Damn you, A..non! I've got this "ratio" thing stuck in my mind. What does that work out to? One cougar per large Toronto highrise apartment block? Two or three to a highrise office tower? It's probably a good thing we don't have a Coliseum any longer.

Purple library guy said...

That cougar swimming video is way cool. Including the end where it climbs out and then goes straight up the rock, like, dum de dum strolling.

The Mound of Sound said...

Yeah and they're not too shy around fishing boats either. There's one video of a big cat swimming directly for the boat's swim grid. The jerk in the boat hit the gas, raced away and then went back to idle. The cougar kept coming and it plainly had dinner in mind. Finally they took off and the cat turned, heading for the nearest island. They are fine swimmers and with those claws the can scramble up rocks we'd never handle.