I have had my fair share of animal encounters before. Some of them I’ve shared here: Snoozy bears and duck assaults and evil horses among the most notable. On one occasion there were mummified birds, bloated dead cows and a screaming birthing horse in one fell swoop.
I have dealt with lunging llamas, claustrophobic dive-bombing birds, coyote stalkings, and sleepless nights listening to eery howler monkey’s. I have also had the pleasure of swimming in the wild with sea turtles and sea lions and watching goofy moose, clumsy penguins and shy jaguars in their natural habitats.
But besides the human animals (Korean subway perverts, Ecuadorian salsa perverts and Vancouver alleyway perverts), I have never felt my life was threatened by any of these other animals.
Which is why I was sick to my stomach upon hearing about the cougar attack on a 3 year old girl in my community last week. Not only did it attack a human, it attacked a toddler human. Literally, that makes me want to heave, the thought of that, the horrid, horrid thought of that. It does not help that I know this toddler and her mom. Not well. I don’t have her number and we don’t go out for coffee. But when we see each other around town we always stop to chat about our kids and more specifically, trying to balance parenthood with owning a small business in town. From what I do know of her, her heroic actions in saving her daughter do not surprise me. But then, no mother risking their own life to save their child surprises me anymore. It is instinctual to do so.
I wonder if the cougar got that. Felt that intense maternal ferocity and eased up. I think probably that it did. Female cougars are known to also fiercely protect their young. This cougar was a young male, probably just starting out establishing its own territory. I do not know what cougars feel but one can assume that it still remembered its mom. Still honoured her job in teaching, guiding, and defending his life. I choose to believe that is why he released his hold. Otherwise it becomes too easy to get caught up in the hysteria and I would be too damn scared to walk these trails and experience nature in it’s purest form. Fear would make me jumpy, paranoid and irrational. Which of course would lead only to more attacks, only from the human side.
So we will continue to walk, bike, hike, ski and kayak in the forests, estuaries, ocean, mountains, and national parks that surround our home. We will also teach, guide and prepare our kids to respect, adore and take care of these lands and all the animals amongst them. Hopefully then, my kids will have similar animal encounters and neither side will feel the need to attack (except maybe the odd psychotic duck…)