Saanich police are advising residents to be vigilant after officers spotted a cougar prowling in a residential neighbourhood early Wednesday morning.
Police were called about a cougar sighting around 4:20 a.m. to the 100-block of Battleford Ave., which runs parallel with the Trans-Canada Highway near Tillicum Road. While on scene, the responding officers saw the animal several times, but they were unable to contain it.
“It’s fairly unusual that officers sight the animals themselves,” said Sgt. Dean Jantzen. “We receive many calls of this nature that our investigators can discount … The first order of business (for police) is to confirm the sighting before we unduly alarm people about a dog or house cat.”
The B.C. Conservation Officer Service was contacted by police Wednesday morning, but did not attend.
“We’re not looking to harm the animal – we’re there for public safety,” Jantzen said. “As long as the animal’s behaving the way a creature like this should, our concern is just to notify the public that this animal is out there.”
It was the second reported sighting in eight hours in Saanich. The first came around 8:45 p.m. on Tuesday from a resident in the 800-block of Seamist Pl. in Cordova Bay.
Police were unable to track that animal, which police believe was not the same cougar spotted on Wednesday morning. The latter sighting was of a young animal, which has a smaller range.
Jantzen says an adult cougar can have a territory spanning 100 miles, and will use trail systems like the Galloping Goose or Lochside to quickly get around the municipality.
“Police are requesting that the public maintain a heightened awareness in these areas and be cognizant of the potential danger associated with these animals,” said Staff Sgt. Mark Muth. “Increased vigilance with respect to protecting children and pets is obviously warranted.”