Beware the wild things

This week's editorial reflects on the recent spate of cougar sightings.

It was all fun and games in Port McNeill Saturday when the Town of Port McNeill billed itself as the place “Where the Wild Things Are” for its annual OrcaFest.

But the very real wild things of the North Island proved no laughing matter for a visiting family and their pet, who experienced a harrowing encounter with a cougar one week earlier.

Cade Henderson of Calgary may have been lucky to get off without a scratch after clubbing a large cougar while camping on a family lot near the end of Mine Road in Port McNeill. His dog, Indie, was not as fortunate, and suffered wounds that required stitching in the evening attack.

Vancouver Island — and particularly the northern half of the island — is known as the cougar capital of the world, and it’s certainly living up to the reputation this year.

Sightings of the big cats in populated areas ebb and flow, but they do seem to come in groups. We’re in the midst of one of those clusters of sightings at the moment, with reports of one or more cougars in the Hyde Creek and Nimpkish Heights neighborhoods south of Port McNeill, in Port McNeill itself and, in a photo shared Tuesday morning by the Quatsino First Nation, near Coal Harbour.

Speculation abounds every time there is an uptick in predator sightings in or near developed communities, but the fact is we have chosen to live in their habitat and they’re never too far away.

While attacks on humans remain, thankfully, quite rare, these hunters are on the lookout for food, and your pets and livestock are prime menu selections if precautions are not taken.

Social media has provided an almost instantaneous method of broadcasting these sightings to large numbers of people, which is helpful.

But as you race to the phone or computer to upload the latest report, don’t forget to notify the Conservation Officer Service — the call is free to 1-877-952-7277.