An area resident saw what he believed to be a young adult cougar on a path leading to the Englishman River Estuary Tuesday morning. — Gary Walinga photo

Big cat spotted on Parksville trail

Big cat seen near Englishman River estuary Tuesday morning

An area resident was surprised when he came upon what he believed to be a young adult cougar while hiking out of the Englishman River estuary toward Mills Road in Parksville Tuesday morning, May 1, 2018.

Gary Walinga was walking out of the estuary toward town when he spied the big cat, which was walking away from him along the same trail. When the apparent cougar turned to look to one side, Walinga snapped a quick photo.

A veterinarian Malcolm McAdie with the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre told The NEWS that after seeing the photo, it was inconclusive whether or not the feline was a cougar because of the fuzzy photo. McAdie also said there was no context to give a size ratio of the cat.

Walinga said he continued on the path around the next bend and saw the cat one more time before it noticed him and sprinted away, he said.

“I just came upon him; he was looking for prey,” Walinga said. “He walked away from me, and I let him go.”

The pathway is a popular link between a Parksville residential area and the estuary and beach.

“People use it to walk their dogs all the time,” said Walinga, who said he just wanted to alert residents to the animal’s proximity to the city.

— NEWS staff

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