'Cougar almost ate me for lunch,' says 7-year-old B.C. boy

A seven-year-old boy who was mauled by a cougar on Vancouver Island is recovering in hospital.

"The cougar almost ate me for lunch ... and breakfast," said Kaylum Doherty from his hospital bed in Port Alberni.

The animal attacked the boy on Wednesday night at a campsite on the west side of Sproat Lake. Doherty had just finished a meal of hotdogs and was heading down to the river with his dad.

"I went to wash my hands and pfffft ... I'm almost history. Daddy threw a rock at him and now he's dead," the boy said.

His father struck the cougar in the head with a rock, and his father's girlfriend hit the animal with a frying pan. It ran off into the bush.

Kaylum underwent surgery to repair his scalp and puncture wounds on his shoulder and back, and is on his way to a full recovery.

"The cat only managed to sink his teeth into his shoulders and he tore a bit of his scalp off," said father Rick Doherty, from his son’s bedside. "But nothing that can't be repaired."

He said the gravity of the situation is just hitting him now.

"Last night it started to sink in to how close I came to losing my son. I don't know what I would have done if that happened."

On Thursday, conservation officers used hounds to track the cougar, and then killed it.

A necropsy revealed that cougar was young and malnourished.

"We have immature cougars who have yet to find a territory to hunt in, and may not be successful hunting," said Chris Doyle, an inspector with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.

Doyle said the young male weighed just 30 kilograms — half the average weight for a healthy male — and that the cougar was likely in its first year of trying to survive on its own.

"While they're with the family, the mother will do a lot of the hunting, but once they disperse they have to not only figure out how to do things on their own, but also have to find a territory to hunt in," he said.

Despite the harrowing ordeal, Kaylum says the incident won't keep him from camping.

He has this bit of advice for other kids who come face-to-face with a cougar: "Yell for help and call their parents!"

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