CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C. – Parents and students at a Campbell River elementary school have been put on alert, after a cougar was spotted near the school grounds.
A notice to parents at Ocean Grove Elementary says that the school had received a confirmed report from a conservation officer, of a cougar sighting on Monday night on Finch Road.
The notice asked Ocean Grove parents to “take appropriate precautions” with their children, adding that school staff have been advised to discuss the sighting with students, and all students have been advised to stay out of wooded areas around the school.
North Island Zone conservation officer Steve Petrovcic said officers responded to an alleged cougar sighting complaint at roughly 9:00 p.m. on April 8, on the north side of Finch Road near Jubilee Parkway.
A man let his dog out in his backyard and the dog bolted to the fence line. The man said he heard some climbing and hissing and growling sounds on the other side of the fence.
“There was not a confirmed sighting at that time,” Petrovcic said.
Based on the description however, Petrovcic said it “certainly sounded like a cougar.”
Fast forward to this afternoon, and conservation officers who were following up from last night’s report received a call from the school, saying there was another sighting.
“An individual contacted Ocean Grove school, advising that they had encountered a gentleman who had been walking the trail network between Finch and the school, where he had reportedly encountered a cougar on the trail,” Petrovcic said.
He noted that there was about a five minute time delay between the person contacting the school and the school connecting with B.C. Conservation.
Two conservation officers went to the area but were unable to locate the cougar.
Petrovcic is now reminding residents in the area to be “extra vigilant.”
“If you’re out walking, make sure your eyes are up, your head is up, you’re scanning, looking (at) the treeline, monitoring well ahead of you on the trail, and if a cougar is sighted, to please contact the call centre,” Petrovcic said.
“Keep your kids close and please keep your pet on a leash.”
The area between Jubilee Parkway and Ocean Grove Elementary has a large number of black-tailed deer, which make up a significant portion of the resident cougars’ diet.
“A daytime sighting on the trail, that’s maybe a bit out of the norm, unless the cat has a kill down, a deer that it possibly harvested and has come back to feed on,” Petrovcic said. “There (are) a few possibilities as to why that cat is still in the immediate area.”
If you see a cougar, report it directly to the call centre at 1-877-952-7277 (24 hour line).
Lots of sightings
Petrovcic said in the last seven to 10 days there has been a few cougar sightings in and around Campbell River. They include:
- In the vicinity of ERT and Willis Road
- Steelhead Road
- Old Petersen Road
- In a backyard in Seamist Drive in the Stories Beach area; and
- At a remote cabin near Quinsam Lake, where two young cats were spotted