Andy Phillips shows the spot near his home in Qualicum Beach where he had an close encounter with an angry cougar. (Submitted photo)

Andy Phillips shows the spot near his home in Qualicum Beach where he had an close encounter with an angry cougar. (Submitted photo)

Close encounter with angry cougar no garden party for Qualicum Beach man

What he thought was two cats fighting in his garden ended up a lot more cat than he bargained for

Qualicum Beach resident Andy Phillips had never seen a cougar before.

When he did, it scared the living daylights out of him.

Phillips, an artist, had just finished painting at his studio when he decided to head to his garden for some fresh air before going to bed at around 2 a.m. on Aug. 17.

That’s when he heard noises. He wasn’t sure what it was.

“I’ve only lived in Qualicum Beach for two years and the rest of my life I lived in England,” said Phillips, who lives on Fern Road East near the Qualicum Beach Airport.

“My ears heard what I thought were two cats fighting. It was annoying. They were so annoying that I thought I’d scare them away so they won’t keep me awake.”

Phillips, who has a leg disability, slowly and quietly threaded across his garden to where he believed the cats were. That’s when he got the shock of his life.

He found himself staring at a huge cougar about 12 feet away.

“It was too close for me,” said Phillips. “It was a cougar right there. I have never seen a cougar before. My instinct was just to flee but then I remembered, somebody told me a long time ago, what to do if you meet a cougar. So I made myself look big and shouted as loud as I could. I expected it to run away but it did not. It jumped into a tree directly above my head.”

What was already a scary situation got worse.

READ MORE: Cougar euthanized after attacking small dog in Dunsmuir area

“I couldn’t see the cougar and the tree is very, very close to me,” said Phillips. “It started to growl at me quite loudly. At this point I was terrified because I couldn’t see it. It had the high ground and it sounded really pissed off. I started to walk away. I remembered not to turn my back. I kept facing it and kept myself big. And very slowly with my disabled leg I walked backwards while shouting as loud as I could at this cougar.”

Phillips was able to make it back safely to his studio. He called 911 and was directed to the BC Conservation office. He was told that the cougar’s behaviour was unusual as it did not run away when he startled it.

“The noise it was making I was told by conservation officers they think it just made a kill,” said Phillips. “It was being very protective and very defensive of its kill. That’s why it was standing its ground.”

Being in an area where there is an abundance of rabbits, deers and other wildlife, Phillips said, they believe the cougar has been frequenting the area.

“We’ve found quite a lot of rabbit remains in our garden and it appears it’s been using our garden to hunt rabbits,” he said. “As long as there is wildlife, conservation officers told me the cougar will focus on them. But if they’re not available they are also likely to target livestock, pets and even children. So I was told it’s best to keep children and pets inside the house. I have a 4-year-old and an 8-year-old. So that’s what I am doing.”

Residents in the area are being advised to be on the alert and to keep their pets safe.

There has been an increasing amount of cougar sightings in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area lately. Earlier this month, a cougar that killed a small dog in the Dunsmuir area had to be euthanized by conservation officers. There’s also a report of a cougar that killed a miniature pony in its pen in the Corcan Meadowood area.

According to Stuart Bates, conservation officer for the Central Island Zone (Chemainus to Deep Bay), COs have received 106 calls since April 1. Last year, at the same time period, they had about 90 and in 2018, they had 126 calls. Vancouver Island, he pointed out, has the highest population density of cougars in the world.

People are advised to call the provincial Report All Poachers and Polluters line at 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP) to report any cougar sightings.

Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

PQB News reader Randy Hall set up a camera at the beach in Parksville, in the same spot every day in February, to capture the changing days and weather. (Randy Hall photo)
WATCH: Scenes from 28 days in February in Parksville

PQB News reader Randy Hall set up camera in same location each day

An Island Health nurse prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy Island Health)
Health authority opening 19 clinics to immunize Vancouver Island residents

Health authority anticipates more than 40,000 people will be immunized over the next month

(PQB News file photo)
Some frustrated Parksville Qualicum Beach residents now tossing recyclables in garbage

Option is driving to collection centres in Nanaimo and Courtenay

Mike Garland, fundraising member of the Oceanside Community Track committee, visits the PQB News/VI Free Daily studio. (Peter McCully photo)
PQBeat: Mike Garland’s group wants an updated running track in Parksville

Podcast: Talk includes fundraising, plans to upgrade aging facility and more

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

A special committee has been appointed to look at reforming B.C.’s police act and is inviting the public to make submissions until April 30, 2021. (Black Press media file)
Have thoughts on B.C.’s review of the provincial Police Act?

Submissions will be accepted until April 30

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
New COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna care home includes fully vaccinated seniors: Henry

Two staff and 10 residents tested positive at Cottonwoods Care Centre

Excerpts from a conversation between Bria Fisher and the fake truLOCAL job. Fisher had signed a job agreement and was prepared to start work for what she thought was truLOCAL before she learned it was a scam. (Contributed)
B.C. woman warning others after losing $3,000 in job scam

Bria Fisher was hired by what she thought was a Canadian company, only to be out thousands

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

Rising accident rates and payout costs have contributed to billion-dollar deficits at ICBC. (Comox Valley Record)
B.C. appealing decision keeping ICBC injury cases in court

David Eby vows to ‘clip wings’ of personal injury lawyers

Hannah Ankenmann, who works with k’awat’si Economic Development Corporation, winces as she received her first shot of the Pfizer vaccine administered by a Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Family Health nurse. (Zoe Ducklow photo)
Vancouver Island’s small remote towns to get community-wide vaccine clinics

Island Health to take a wholesale approach to immunization, rather than age-based appointments

Anyone with information is asked to call Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or contact Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477 or submitting a tip online at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com.
21-year-old motorbike rider dies after crash with ATV on Nanaimo back road

Incident happened Sunday afternoon near Boomerang Lake

Most Read