Conservation officer expects to see more cougars in urban areas

Cougar spotted in Saanich Saturday night most likely a young adult

A provincial conservation officer expects that cougars will continue to appear in urban areas at current rates.

“We will continue to see cougars in urban areas, probably at about the same frequency as now,” said Peter Pauwels, a provincial conservation officer. “Cougars do not like busy areas, but will explore them in the search for available and vacant habitat.”

He made these comments after a cougar wandered through the area near Uptown late Saturday night, early Sunday morning. Saanich Police later received multiple reports of a cougar in the area of Hampton Park, along Tillicum Road between Burnside Road West and Regina Avenue.

READ MORE: Saanich Police receives ‘credible’ report of cougar near Uptown area

READ MORE: Saanich police advising residents to be on the lookout for a cougar believed to be hunting small pets

It is not clear whether the cougar sighted near Uptown is the same cougar as the cougar sighted in the Hampton Park area.

Pauwels said he could not offer any additional information. “It is most likely to be a young adult, or sub-adult [juvenile], based on what we’ve seen in the past,” he said.

Speaking to Black Press earlier this year, conservation officer Richard Dekelver said it is not unusual to have cougars moving around the Peninsula at any given time. The big cats don’t operate on a seasonal schedule, but spring and summer sightings might be more common with longer days and people spending more time outside, he said.

RELATED: Aggressive doe chases Oak Bay woman and her dog

While reported ‘cougar’ sightings are frequent, Dekelver said actually seeing the big felines in the city is pretty unlikely.

“The urban ones are more often than not mis-sightings,” he said. “It’s often been a raccoon, a house cat or an otter.”

This said, if confronted with a cougar, Pauwels offers this advice: “Do not approach the cougar,” he said. “[Slowly] move to a safe location while always watching the cougar. If the cougar approaches, make a lot of noise and try to make yourself look as large as possible. Never try to run from a cougar or turn your back to one.”

More information is available at BC Conservation. To report a conflict with wildlife that threatens public safety call 1-877-952-7277


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