By MEL ROTHENBURGER
PINANTAN — Corrina Knoll thought she’d better investigate when she heard something going on at the sheep pen 200 yards from the house late Saturday afternoon.
She was untangling the electric fence when the strands started moving so she investigated a little further down the line.
That’s when the Pinantan resident saw the cougar on the other side of a bush about 15 ft. away. It was eating one of her lambs. It was a big, healthy looking cat, she said.
“I screamed twice and it just sort of looked at me,” Knoll said today. Then she started throwing rocks and sticks. One of the rocks almost hit it in the head and it let go of the lamb and ran towards the trees, where it turned around and looked at her.
“I ran at it again,” said Knoll. It was enough to scare it off.
That was about 4 p.m. A while later, a teenager was walking home with two youngsters when they saw the cougar near the road, hissing at them.
Shortly before 9, the cougar returned to the scene of the kill but by then Knoll and her husband had removed the carcass of the dead lamb. Knoll’s husband took a shot at it and it ran off again.
Conservation officers arrived at 5 a.m. Sunday, chaining the dead lamb to a tree and setting five leghold traps around it.
Sgt. Andy McKay of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service said the cougar was likely a young one that was passing through and isn’t a very good hunter yet.
“We live in cougar country and there are cougars passing through all the time,” he said. “It wasn’t aggressive, it wasn’t being pushy.
“Generally speaking they don’t want to be around people.”
If the cougar remains in the area and is thought to be a threat, the conservation office will go after it with cougar hounds, McKay said.
He said the cougar’s return to the site of its kill was typical behavior, and he advised anyone encountering a similar situation to leave the carcass there and call the CO Service right away at 1-877-952-7277. It was unfortunate that his office didn’t learn of the incident until 9:15 Saturday night and couldn’t react until early the next morning, he said, adding that the cougar isn’t likely to show up a third time.
Knoll has mixed emotions about that. She kind of hopes it does return so it can be caught and she and the community can relax.
She’s “more mad” than afraid of it but has moved the remaining five sheep off the property.
Knoll is replaying the incident in her head, thinking about how it could have been worse. The Knolls’ two kids, six and eight, were playing not far from the sheep pasture on Saturday. Their two dogs were outside, too, but fortunately didn’t become involved with the cougar.
“We were outside all day.”
Those are the kinds of things she’s thinking about, but mostly the image of stumbling on to a cougar is running through her mind. “I chased a cougar away with rocks and sticks. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet.”