An Edmonton area teen has her family’s quick actions to thank for scaring away an attacking cougar.
Mykaela Belter, 16, was hiking with her family in Waterton Lakes National Park in southern Alberta when she heard a noise in the bushes. Mykaela and her sister Gabrielle were walking slightly separated from the group, talking and laughing. She turned around and all of a sudden a cougar jumped out of the bushes grabbing her side and lower back.
“I felt the pain as soon as it clawed me,” Mykaela told CTV Edmonton .
“I was super surprised to see the cougar hanging on to her and it pulled her toward the bushes,” Gabrielle told CTV Edmonton. “That really started freaking me out.”
Mykaela’s sister and brother started to panic and scream, but it was her dad yelling at the animal that eventually scared it away. Mykaela required two stitches for seven puncture wounds on her leg. She also suffered two puncture wounds on her back. Despite the brush with death, she is taking it all in stride.
“I think it’s kind of cool actually because who gets that close to a cougar?” Mykaela said.
The cougar was later found and put down because it was acting in an unusual way. The park’s resource conservation manager, Dennis Madsen, said it had threatened a second group of hikers.
Cougars, while extremely dangerous, generally avoid people.
“Cougars are very secretive, very shy by nature,” said Madsen. “They’re obviously very good at moving through the bush and they become aware of us if we’re on the landscape long before we’re aware of them.”
Mykaela said she still wants to try to climb to the top of the trail she was climbing, but her mom doesn’t want her to go hiking again.
With files from CTV Edmonton’s Serena Mah and The Canadian Press