Susan Lawrence has seen her fair share of cougars around Ravensview Estates in Langford.
As a resident in the area for nearly 17 years, she wants signs posted to warn visitors at nearby parks such as Irwin Ponds Park or Ravens View Park to be aware of the off-chance they might come across one of the big felines.
“Letting a small dog off-leash or letting your kids run ahead in front of you on these trails is simply cougar bait,” she said. “I meet visitors who have never been to this area and they’re shocked to find out that cougars are spotted in this area. For me, it’s an issue of safety and I don’t want people getting hurt.”
As a precaution, she always keeps her small dog on a leash when walking through the parks. When her grandson was younger, she’d always make sure that grandpa was in the front and grandma was in the back.
In a nearby complex, one resident suspects he lost his cat to a cougar. He spotted one on his surveillance camera footage walking by his home around 1 a.m. on Monday, April 26.
“My cat hasn’t come home since last Thursday [April 23],” said Ken Boyechko. “I can only assume he was caught. The other neighbour saw [a cougar] chasing another cat.”
Rick DeKelver, from the B.C. Conservation Officer Service, has heard reports of eight or nine sightings throughout Langford between the end of March and the end of April, but nothing that concerns him.
“People don’t usually realize how many cougars are around us, especially with a healthy population of them on the Island,” said DeKelver, a conservation officer in the south Island zone. “Perhaps in an extreme case, like a brutal attack or an animal targeting humans would we post a sign.”
But he said the CRD would be in charge of putting the signs in.
The CRD senior manager of regional parks had not responded to requests for comment at the time of publication.
If you happen to spot a cougar, the conservation officer noted the best advice he can give is to stand your ground, make eye contact and then back away slowly.