Carol Walton spotted a cougar on her family's property near Beaver Creek and Grigg Road on Sunday at 7 p.m. Her two dogs were anxiously barking at what she thought was a black bear. After noticing that it was a mountain lion, Carol hurried back to her house and alerted her son, Kirk.
"I've been here 50 years and I've never seen [a cougar]," Carol said, adding she believes the number of cougars in the area has been increasing lately. "But I always knew they were around."
Horses act differently, as if prepared to flee, when a cougar is in the area, she noted.
Carol had been volunteering as a horse riding coach for the Alberni Valley 4-H Clubs on Sunday. The youth participants, as young as nine years old, were out practicing their equine handling skills until 5 p.m. that evening - just two hours before the cougar showed up, Carol said.
Bronson and Minty, Carol's Belgian shepherd and miniature schnauzer, were barking anxiously in the twilight. Some wild predator was out there.
"I told them to get the bear," said Carol, who had chased off a black bear from their property a week earlier. "The dogs were having an absolute fit."
They were barking differently and leaping up, she noticed. From her animals' behaviour she looked closer and saw that it wasn't another bear. This particular creature was more aggressive. Carol recalled quickly leaving with her two dogs. "You have to give a cougar a lot of respect," she said.
The Beaver Creek resident jogged up the road and told her family about the encounter. Her son Kirk then went to have a look around.
"It was pretty traumatized from the dogs," Carol said, adding she's certain the cougar isn't coming back. "I'm not worried about it."