Monday, July 22, 2013

Texas tourists share photos of close encounter with cougar

Two hikers who came face to face with a cougar last week near Lake Louise are sharing their photos of the elusive predator.

Bob and Joyce McMillan were visiting the area from their home in Abilene, Texas.

?He was magnificent, but it was too close for comfort,? Joyce McMillan wrote in an email to the Herald.

They were hiking on the Tea House Trail last Tuesday morning. Joyce said they realized later that the cougar had been following them from the start.

?We realized that in retrospect,? she said. ?Some crows were going crazy and kept up their constant squawking.?

She told her husband to turn around and see what the crows were doing in the trees above them and that?s when he spotted the cat.

?We kept an eye on him,? she said.

They met a group of three from Michigan on the trail and they hiked together and made sure to make lots of noise.

The cougar soon slinked off into the woods.

?At the time, it was both amazing and terrifying,? she said. ?Just glad those hikers were there.?

Their sighting plus an incident by the lake shoreline prompted a warning from park officials.

Last Monday, officials received a report of a cougar following a horse and carriage along the Lake Louise shoreline. The cougar followed for about five minutes before heading into the trees.

?It?s not unusual for cougars to use that area,? said Parks Canada spokesman Omar McDadi.

He said the fact it followed two groups was cause for concern.

As a result, a warning was posted in and around the Lake Louise shoreline trail, Lake Agnes trail, Fairview Lookout trail and the Plain of Six Glaciers trail.

Parks Canada staff are monitoring the situation, and are asking people to take extra precautions in the area.


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