A large adult cougar is on the prowl in the French Creek area of Parksville, and a local renter has the proof.
Cory Betz, the golf pro at nearby Eaglecrest Golf Club, snapped several photos early Wednesday evening after being surprised when the big cat strolled past the glass wall of the suite he rents in the walk-out basement of Len and Kathie Black.
“He took the photo right outside his door,” Len Black said of Betz, who was not available for comment. “(The cougar) was about 15 to 20 feet from the door.”
Black, who said he had been out in the yard just a few minutes earlier, said he has seen cougar tracks in a stream near his 7-hectare (18-acre) property, but has yet to see one of the cats in person.
“She was way too close to the house, as far as I’m concerned,” Black said. “She walked right across the front doors and stayed a minute and a half or two minutes.”
The area, near Morningstar Golf Club and Morningstar Farm, is populated by several homes on acreages, but also backs up to a newer residential subdivision.
Black said he has not heard from neighbours about any issues with attacks on livestock, but said his wife Kathie was “quite upset. We take walks out in this area.”
Staff contacted at Morningstar dairy farm and Little Qualicum Cheeseworks said their livestock has not been troubled, and the owner said he was not aware of any cougar sightings around the farm.
“Not to my knowledge; I’m not aware of any,” said Clark Gourlay, the farm’s owner. “(But) I’ll keep our dog close to home.”
Staff at Morningstar Golf Club also said there have been no reports of sightings around the course, which hosted a high school golf tournament Wednesday, which was still in progress at the time of Betz’s sighting.
“It’s news to me,” said a golf club employee. “I don’t like to hear about that.”
Black said he would be just as happy if the cougar did not make a return visit to his home, as well. He has a 100-pound labrador retriever, and said the cat was bigger.
“If they’re not hungry, I don’t think they bother people,” he said. “We have a lot of deer on our property, but I haven’t seen them for a while. Maybe they’ve gone off to safer territory.”