By Dr. Becker
A guide and three anglers were on a fishing adventure recently to Vancouver Island in British Columbia. After spending the day catching salmon and halibut, the group was steering through Nootka Sound when they saw a furry animal in the water swimming in their direction. They assumed it was an otter… except it had ears and was dog paddling …
Much to the group’s surprise, the furry dog paddler was a feline. A cougar, to be exact.
Cougars, also known as pumas or mountain lions, are the largest cats in North America. They weigh between 100 and 200 pounds, but despite their size, they are actually genetically closer to domestic cats than lions.
Cougars are slender and range in height from 24 to 35 inches at the shoulder. Males grow to a just under 8 feet nose to tail and can weigh from 115 to 220 pounds, with an average weight of about 140. Adult females grow to about 6.5 feet in length, weigh from 64 to 141 pounds, and average about 95 pounds.
Was the Cougar Hoping to Catch a Ride Back to Shore?
Cougars generally stay hidden during daylight hours, so it was quite unusual to see one out and about and swimming – and apparently headed right for the fishing boat. These cats are wary of humans and not known to attack from such a vulnerable position, but the fishing guide was convinced the group was in danger.
“I would have no doubt it would have tried to climb onto the motor pod, given an opportunity,” Graham Nielsen told the Victoria Times Colonist. Nielsen also believed the cougar was still a youngster, but estimated it was 10 feet long – likely a slight exaggeration given that adult males rarely reach a full 8 feet in length.
Despite the outstretched hand of one of the people on the boat, the swimming cougar stayed in the water and made it safely to shore, as did the fishermen, giving this quirky little story a happy ending!