An Australian duo had what they say is “definitely a bit of a Canadian experience” when they encountered a cougar in Jasper National Park.
Donald Lauder and Samantha Lean were out biking in the park last week when they decided to take a hike down a path toward the river. After a few minutes of walking, they heard something moving in the bush.
Instinctually, the Australians picked up some rocks and a large stick to use as weapons in case they needed to fend off whatever was rustling in the bushes.
Then, a cougar pounced out from the bushes and stared the duo down.
The cougar was hissing and only a meter or so away, so Lean started hitting the cougar, attempting to scare it off. Then Lauder joined in, throwing rocks at the animal.
Lauder threw around eight rocks, but the cougar seemed unfazed. For nearly a minute, there was a stand-off between the cougar and the Australians.
“It was just staring at me and hissing at me,” Lean said to the CBC. “I was thinking to myself, ‘How are we going to get out of this situation? This is pretty dire.’”
Then, Lauder played the oldest trick in the book for distracting hyper pets: Throw ‘em something. He chucked a rock into the bush and the cougar immediately chased it.
As the cougar was off looking for the rock, Lauder and Lean made their way back up the path towards their bikes and safety.
While the Australians might have thought this close encounter was quintessentially Canadian, coming face to face with a cougar in the wild is actually very rare. The Jasper National Park’s website notes that, “although rarely seen, there is a small population in the park. In recent years, cougars have been caught on camera nearer to human habitation than initially thought.”
That said, the park states that cougars very rarely attack humans.