It takes a fair share of moxie to stand your ground in the presence of predators, but experience was on the side of outdoorsman Adam Bartsch when he recently found himself in a staring contest with a cougar on a Canadian wildlife trail.

Bartsch was setting up wildlife cameras and collecting shed deer-antlers north of the Campbell River on Vancouver Island when he realised he was being watched by a sizeable mountain lion. "There is a monster, monster tom [male cougar] at 20 metres looking at me," Bartsch says in the video. "And no, I don't have a gun. I have nothing. And he is huge.

The tense standoff lasted for over an hour before the cat finally slinked off into the woods. Off camera, Bartsch made numerous attempts to scare the puma off by throwing rocks and sticks in its direction, however, the persistent animal kept coming back.

The cougar was likely more curious than hungry, explained the outdoorsman’s wife Chantelle Bartsch who teaches bear and cougar safety courses. "It was [Adam's] luck for the day that the cat was only out for some stardom, and wasn't out for his lunch," she told a local news outlet.

The cougar’s unusual curiosity may be an indication that the cat has become too accustomed to human presence. Habituated animals can become “bold or inquisitive and may be encountered at close proximity”, say Parks Canada. These animals can become a threat to human safety and it’s important to remain at a safe distance.

Vancouver Island is prime cougar territory and encounters like this are a reminder to those exploring the area to always remain vigilant and keep your distance should you encounter a wild predator. Some commenters online have criticised Bartsch for remaining in the area for too long, however, the avid outdoorsman felt confident that he was never in any real danger.

According to Parks Canada, in the event of a cougar encounter, it’s important not to run, to maintain eye contact with the cat, wave your arms and shout to make yourself appear larger, and back away slowly if the cougar holds your stare.


Header image:Kristen Ortwerth-Jewell, Flickr