Fishing guide Graham Nielsen had seen wolves and bears swim between islands around Nootka Sound but never a cougar, and never at such a clip as he witnessed last week.
On July 15, the operator of Nielsen’s Lodge in Tahsis — a village on Vancouver Island’s west coast, about three hours from Campbell River — took three guests fishing on his 24-foot boat. After reeling in four halibut and eight salmon, they motored back in the late afternoon.
As their boat turned into the gap between Nootka Island and Vancouver Island, the group spotted something in the water.
“One fellow saw something near the shore. He said, ‘Hey, it’s an otter. Weird. It looks like it’s paddling.’ So I say, ‘Otters don’t paddle,’ ” Nielsen said. “We got a bit closer and saw it was a cougar — not full grown, but big. Probably 10 feet, nose to tail. It was moving real fast, too. It swam nearly halfway across — about a quarter mile. I didn’t know they could swim like that.”
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