Cougar warning issued for Banff after dog walker’s close encounter

Parks Canada has issued a cougar warning for the Banff townsite and surrounding area after a dog walker had a close encounter.

“A cougar displayed aggressive behaviour, after approaching a dog walker at a close distance,” reads the warning, issued Monday.

Dan Rafla, human wildlife coexistence specialist with Banff National Park said it’s best to walk with others, carry bear spray, and be alert — especially when walking pets.

“Cougars tend to be active at those sort of dawn and dusk … consider walking your dog during daylight, or if you do walk it after dark, which is fine, consider an alternative route somewhere in more built-up area in town rather than trails or where it’s dark and there’s lots of cover for a cat,” he suggested.

Rafla said it’s important to make lots of noise.

And, in the rare case of an attack, defend yourself.

“With bears, we sometimes in some instances say play dead. You would not want to play dead with a cougar,” he said.

“You want to be intimidating, forceful and strong — at least appear strong — if it does make contact with you. You want to fight back vigorously and use any objects you might find close by, whether it’s a rock or a stick or anything you can use to protect yourself.”

Any cougar sightings should be reported to the Banff 24/7 emergency dispatch line at 403-762-1470.

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