A Vancouver Island man recently found himself in the unenviable position of being stalked by a “monster” cougar. However, instead of fleeing, he did what any 21st century wildlife photographer would: pulled out his camera and shot a video.
Adam Bartsch was in the forest north of Campbell River setting up wildlife cameras when he realized he was within close range of the 140-pound cougar — and it was watching him intently. Remaining calm, Bartsch got out his camera and started filming. The resulting video (edited down to five minutes and given a dramatic soundtrack) gives an up-close look at an animal many of us have never come across in the wild.
The Cougar’s expression will be familiar to anyone who has a housecat. It’s clearly very interested in Bartsch, and its body language is more than a little wary.
“There is a monster, monster tom at 20 metres looking at me,” Bartsch is heard to say.
Bartsch, though a hunter, was unarmed. Fortunately, though, as an avid outdoorsman, he knew not to run or turn his back on the animal. He stood his ground, and eventually the cougar retreated into the woods.
Bartsch’s wife, Chantelle Bartsch, who teaches courses on how to deal safely with wildlife, told CTV News that she believes the cat was probably feeling inquisitive rather than aggressive. “It was [Adam’s] luck for the day that the cat was only out for some stardom, and wasn’t out for his lunch.
She also noted that if any of her students found themselves face to face with a cougar, she wouldn’t necessarily recommend that they make taking videos a priority. Still, she said her husband is experienced with wildlife and she trusted his judgment.
“I’ve known him for over 18 years and we’ve been hunting together for that long,” she said. “Both of us absolutely love wildlife, we respect wildlife.”
Cougar spottings are rare outside of B.C. Over three quarters of Canada’s cougar population lives there, with a large portion of those residing on Vancouver Island. However, they can occasionally be found in the prairies. If you encounter a cougar, it is advised that you back away slowly and make yourself look as large as possible — oh, and don’t take out your camera unless you’re a wildlife expert.