A cougar was spotted in a French Creek neighbourhood on March 3. (File photo)

Cougar spotted near home in French Creek

Gayle Hunter had an unexpected visitor on Sunday, March 3.

Hunter, who lives in French Creek, spotted a cougar in her Imperial Drive neighbourhood.

“It saw me with my little dog, who was out to go the bathroom,” said Hunter. “It headed toward me, so we popped up the deck and into the house. I saw it with binoculars, looking around.”

She immediately called wildlife authorities, and a conservation officer was on-scene within minutes.

Hunter said she has not seen the animal since, but was told it might return because it had spotted her small dog.

No warning report has been issued, but a Ministry of Forests official said anyone who spots a cougar that poses an immediate threat or danger to public safety should call a 24-hour hotline at 1-877-952-7277.

From the B.C. government website, tips in the event you encounter a cougar:

Stay calm and keep the cougar in view, pick up children immediately. Children frighten easily and the noise and movements they make could provoke an attack. Back away slowly, ensuring that the animal has a clear avenue of escapeMake yourself look as large as possible and keep the cougar in front of you at all times. Never run or turn your back on a cougar, sudden movement may provoke an attack

If a cougar shows interest or follows you, respond aggressively, maintain eye contact with the cougar, show your teeth and make loud noise. Arm yourself with rocks or sticks as weapons

If a cougar attacks, fight back, convince the cougar you are a threat and not prey, use anything you can as a weapon. Focus your attack on the cougar’s face and eyes. Use rocks, sticks, bear spray or personal belongings as weapons. You are trying to convince the cougar that you are a threat, and are not prey.

— NEWS Staff

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