Parents on both ends of Vancouver Island are on alert after multiple cougar sightings near schools.
Parents are being warned to take precautions following cougar sightings Wednesday in Saanich and Monday around Campbell River.
A public alert through a Saanich Police tweet said police received a report of “a possible cougar sighting” at 6:15 a.m. by Gordon Head Middle School in the 1600-block of Kenmore Road in Saanich.
“Police attended but did not locate the cougar,” it reads.
Meanwhile, a notice posted on the website of Campbell River’s Ocean Grove Elementary says the school has “received a confirmed report from the Conservation Officer of a cougar sighting April 8, 2019 on Finch Road.”
“Please take appropriate precautions with your children,” the notice says, adding that anyone who sees a cougar should report it to the BC Conservation Office’s 24-hour hotline at 1-877-952-7277.
Ripple Rock Elementary said on its Facebook page on Tuesday that “there was a large cougar spotted on our back field this afternoon” and that conservation authorities were notified.
The school urged families to “take extra precaution coming to and from school,” and added that extra supervision would be added to the back field during recess breaks on Wednesday.
The message added that anyone who encounters a cougar shouldn’t run, but should make themselves as large as possible with arms in the air, back away slowly and be loud.
This follows multiple cougar sightings reported in Campbell River in recent days on social media.
On Sunday morning at around 8:15 a.m., local resident Deborah Wedel snapped a photo of a cougar on Steelhead Road, near Holly Hills Farm just north of the Campbell.
“He was just sauntering through,” said Wedel in a Facebook message to the Mirror. “He wasn’t interested in neighbourhood ducks or the local farm… thank goodness!”
On the Facebook group C.R. Cougar and Bear Sightings, other cougar sightings were reported at locations including Willis Road and Stories Beach, both on Monday.
Between March 17 and March 19, Saanich police received three reports of cougar sightings. Police attended in each case, but could not locate the animal. Locations of the sighting varied. They included Cadboro Bay, Chatterton Way near Rithets Bog and Hillcrest Avenue.
On March 28, provincial conservation officers and police responded to a sighting in the Gordon Head area.
“We’ve had a number of confirmed cougar sightings in this area,” said Sgt. Scott Norris, BC Conservation Service at the time. “It doesn’t mean the cougar wasn’t here. Cougars are very elusive, when they want to be seen they’ll be seen, when they don’t want to be seen they’re gone.”