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Cougar in Sproat Lake attack shot dead

Aug 17 2012

The cougar that attacked a Vancouver Island boy camping with his family on Sproat Lake near Port Alberni has been shot, according to police.

The animal was killed about 5: 45 a.m. Thursday, after a seven-year-old boy was attacked on the west end of the lake, said Port Alberni RCMP Const.

Tracey Corner.

The attack occurred at 8: 24 p.m. Wednesday, while the boy was walking near the family's campsite, just a few metres from his father, Insp. Chris Doyle of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service said.

The boy's father, Richard Doherty, told CHEK News he set up camp on the west side of Sproat Lake Wednesday evening with his girlfriend and his son.

They had just finished eating and were heading down to Taylor River to wash their hands when Doherty saw the cougar pounce on his son.

"I grabbed a rock and rushed the cat and hit it in the head and it flew off and spun in the air and started back to my girlfriend. She scared it off with a frying pan," Doherty told CHEK.

Because they were out of cellphone range, Doherty wrapped his son in a towel and started driving to Port Alberni. The car overheated, forcing Doherty to pull over to the side of the road. He managed to get cellphone service and dialled 911.

The boy was rushed to West Coast General Hospital by B.C. Ambulance. He had surgery for head and shoulder injuries Wednesday night. Doherty said his son was talking and would be OK.

Conservation officers were immediately notified and began tracking the cougar at first light Thursday using dogs. The cougar was shot and killed.

Officers are confident they killed the cougar responsible for the attack. A necropsy was being done Thursday, and a site investigation will occur to look for tracks and collect DNA.

With a file from the Alberni Valley Times

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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