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Search for cougar on Saanich Peninsula continues

Aug 25 2012
Garden Gate Road resident Maya Brouwer keeps a pitchfork handy while gardening on Aug. 24, 2012, because of cougar sightings in her Central Saanich neighbourhood area. 

Garden Gate Road resident Maya Brouwer keeps a pitchfork handy while gardening on Aug. 24, 2012, because of cougar sightings in her Central Saanich neighbourhood area.

Photograph by: DARREN STONE , timescolonist.com (August 2012)

Maya Brouwer was pulling weeds from her garden on Garden Gate Road in Central Saanich on Friday, a pitch fork by her side.

She didn't need the tool for gardening — it was for protection, in case a cougar that had been spotted in the area showed up.

"I hate to hurt pets and wildlife, but I want to fend [the cougar] off," Brouwer said.

A cougar was spotted by a neighbour on Thursday evening while Maya and her husband were at the Sidney summer market.

Their cat, Japie, which is normally kept inside, had sneaked outside and was enjoying the summer evening in the yard. Luckily, the house cat escaped the notice of the wandering cougar.

But on Friday, Brouwer wasn't taking any chances. Instead of allowing the cat to join her in the garden, he was locked in the house "and going ballistic," she said.

"We have two acres and part of it is forest," she said.

The cougar could be close by or it could have moved on to another neighbourhood.

Neighbour Stuart Rhodes said that while he didn't see the cougar, he had one in his yard four or five years ago.

He saw a footprint in the snow and sent a photo of it to his son, a hunter, who confirmed the visitor was a cougar.

"It had come over the fence, walked up the driveway, down some stairs, up onto a retaining wall and right down to the corner of property and over the fence," he said.

The Thursday evening sighting was one of several recently reported to Central Saanich police. On Friday morning, a resident of Haldon Road in Saanichton also reported seeing a big cat.

B.C. Conservation officers were searching for the cougar and have asked residents to contact police immediately if they see one.

A cougar was believed to have killed a sheep and several goats on two farms near Island View Road and the Patricia Bay Highway this week.

Police are urging parents to supervise children and suggest that children outdoors be in groups.

Children should be home before dusk and stay indoors until dawn because cougars are active when it's dark.

Dogs can see, smell and hear cougars sooner than humans and may react to their presence first.

If you see a cougar, stay calm and pick up small children. Back away slowly, ensuring the animal has a clear avenue of escape.

Never turn your back on a cougar, police say. A sudden movement can provoke an attack.

smcculloch@timescolonist.com

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