Mom describes cougar attack on son|Richard_F|richard@cfz.org.uk|08/30/04 at 01:50:06|richard_f|xx|0|217.42.205.242|Mom describes cougar attack on son
Last Updated Wed, 18 Aug 2004 8:40:00
JASPER, ALTA. - Wildlife officials in Jasper, Alta., are warning people to be
extra cautious in backcountry areas and to watch for a wild cougar that
attacked a child over the weekend near Jasper National Park.
The animal knocked down five-year-old Chance Stepanick while his family was
camping at the park. His father Rod and another man kicked the cougar and
chased it away.
Wendy Stepanick was inside her trailer when she heard her son scream. She ran
outside to see him lying face-down on the ground, with the cougar attacking
him.
"No one can believe that he's OK," she said.
"The two dads were instantly on the cat, just kicking it and kicking it and
kicking it. They described it as kicking a post. It was just a solid mass of
animal."
Stepanick said the men kicked the cat about eight times before it finally got
off the boy and ran away.
Miraculously, she said, her son suffered only a few scrapes and puncture
wounds.
"I can't even say the 'd' word and I won't even say it," she said. "Chance
should not even be here today."
The family from Vermilion, Alta., was camping in a densely forested area of
the park, not an official campground. Stepanick wants others to learn from that
mistake.
"We shouldn't have been there with children. In fact, it's scary for anybody
to be there."
Wildlife officers believe the cougar may be a young animal recently separated
from its mother. They have been tracking the cat with hounds. Officers are
hoping to get a fresh scent for the hounds or, that there will be a sighting.
Fish and Wildlife officer Christopher Watson said cougars have to be killed
once they start attacking humans.
"If it was a yearling, possibly it was competing [for food] with the
abundance of wolves," he said of the cat that attacked Chance Stepanick. "That could
play into it."
Cougar attacks are rare, but they do happen, sometimes with tragic
consequences. Two and a half years ago, a cougar killed a woman near Lake Minnewanka in
Banff.
People in local communities are questioning why wildlife officers only issued
an alert Tuesday and why they did nothing for three days to warn tourists
about the attack.
A department spokesperson, John Lear, says a formal public alert was not
issued earlier because of the amount of red tape involved in getting news releases
approved.
The department advises that people encountering a wild cougar make a lot of
noise and make themselves look as large as possible.
http://www.cbc.ca/stories/2004/08/18/Cougar_new040818


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