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Man who filmed cougar-machete video has no regrets

Minutes before this cougar was hacked to death while attacking a golden retriever, this photo was taken of it on Bear Lake Main Road.
Image Credit: Steve McQueen

The man who filmed the brutal death of a cougar that was attacking a golden retriever said the cat appeared to be hungry and desperate.

Stuart McQueen first discovered the wild animal several minutes before he began filming. He’s a wildlife contractor who was assigned to the Hidden Creek wildfire, and while travelling down Bear Lake Main Road on his way home from work on Sept. 22, he stumbled upon the cougar lying on the dirt road around the the 14-kilometre marker.

McQueen has spotted numerous cougars in the wild, and while they don’t startle as easily as bears upon realizing humans are near, he said they tend to leave the area pretty quickly. But not this cougar.

Hoping the lazy cat would dart into the forest, he approached with his truck, and said he got so close he nearly nudged it with his bumper.

“It kind of looked at me, it looked dazed,” he said.

McQueen also honked his horn numerous times.

“It just sat down or got up and moved slowly, almost like I wasn’t there.”

Normally he would expect a cougar to scram in that situation. This cat however seemed malnourished, looked young, and appeared to have porcupine quills on its legs – a sign that it had been struggling to find an easy meal.

“They always seem to have that intuition to go for the easier kill.”

Porcupine quills were seen on the dead cougar's rear paws.
Porcupine quills were seen on the dead cougar's rear paws.
Image Credit: Steve McQueen

B.C.'s Conservation Officer Service said in an email that quills were also found in the cougar's mouth.

McQueen made several recordings of the animal before there was any commotion.

A few minutes later, McQueen’s colleagues came up from behind him in two trucks. While parked in front of the cougar, he was worried they wouldn’t see it, so he tried to position his vehicle in a way to protect the wild animal. They spotted the cougar, watched it for a minute, and then carried on.

Next, his incident commander rolled up in another truck, and he remained on scene throughout the commotion, though out of frame from McQueen’s video.

They followed the slow-moving cat, hoping it would bolt into the woods, but it just kept strolling down the road. As they advanced they approached a bend in the road, where McQueen noticed a camp set up on one of the side roads.

The cougar initially walked past the campsite, then it turned around upon noticing two dogs.

READ MORE: Video shows cougar attack dog near West Kelowna; man kills cougar with machete

“As I got closer I started yelling, ‘Get your dogs in there’s a cat on the road.’”

McQueen had to repeat himself a few times before the message was received.

“By the time he understood what I was saying the dogs had already seen the cougar.”

The other man started calling his two dogs back to camp but they wouldn’t listen, so he went to grab his machete.

While the cat appeared weak up until that point, everything changed once it spotted the canines.

“She saw dogs and was like, ‘Okay I need a meal.’”

That was when McQueen began recording his now-viral video. His video captures the man running away from his dog to grab his machete, and in the few seconds it took to wield the weapon and turn around, the cougar’s attack on his golden retriever had already begun.

The golden retriever was older and three-legged, McQueen said – seemingly easier prey than the other dog present, which was brown and four-legged. But the attack on the golden retriever didn't last long before the man hacked the cougar to death. 

“I know wildlife and that cat was not 100%.”

READ MORE: Cougar believed to be responsible for B.C. attack killed: conservation service

Had the cougar been in good shape, McQueen doesn’t think the cougar would have been so easy to take care of with a machete.

“That cat could have knocked the man down after his first strike if she was healthy.”

When McQueen and his incident commander approached the man, they asked if he was OK and told him the golden retriever would need medical treatment. The man asked McQueen to take a photo of him and the dead cougar.

McQueen noticed the dog was suffering from cuts and bleeding, but nowhere nearly as bad as the cougar. He’s not sure how many of the wounds on the dog were a result of the cougar, and how many may have been accidental strikes from the machete. The cat was dead when McQueen approached.

Some comments on social media were critical of McQueen’s response, suggesting a honk or some sort of intervention could have prevented the attack. He stopped reading the comment section.

“A lot of those people behind the keyboard don’t have any stories of their own.”

A woman claiming to be the golden retriever’s owner, Katie Poppy, contacted iNFOnews to say that her dog, Chopper, did not survive the attack. She was working when the attack took place.

"He was nine and only had three legs. There was nothing the vet could do,” she said. “He was the sweetest and most loving dog in the world.”

— This story was corrected at 10:15 a.m. Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. Stuart McQueen's title is actually wildlife contractor, not forest firefighter as reported earlier.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Dan Walton or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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