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Two cougars spotted in Saanich

Jan 04 2012

A cougar was spotted just after 4 a.m. this morning in Saanich by police, following another sighting last night. Based on descriptions, Saanich Police believe they are two different big cats.

Police received a report this morning of a cougar in the 100-block of Battleford Avenue, which runs parallel to the Trans Canada Highway until just before Tillicum Road.

The complainant said the cougar crossed the highway and carried on into a residential area.

Police officers spotted the cougar on several occasions but were unable to keep the animal in a location.

Conservation officer Peter Pauwels said cougars are active all year round and if they are spotted less in the winter months, it’s likely only because there’s less daylight.

Unlike bears, cougars don’t hibernate or retreat during the winter.

It’s unusual for a cougar to be so close to town, as it was reported to be this morning, “but it’s not unheard of,” Pauwels said.

“There’s lots of green spaces and corridors and the Galloping Goose trail so sometimes they can find their way quite far into civilization,” Pauwels said.

Conservation officers were called and asked to attend the area where the cougar was spotted Wednesday morning but “declined to do so”, according to Saanich Staff Sgt. Mark Muth.

Pauwels said there are only two conservation officers serving the area and no one is working at 4:30 a.m. His colleague was at home when he received a call about the cougar.

“We have the capability to come out in an emergency situation when public safety is at risk,” Pauwels said.

The first call about a cougar in Saanich came in at approximately 8:45 Tuesday night. The person calling in reported seeing a young cougar in the 800 block of Seamist Place, close to McMinn Park to the south and Claremont Secondary School to the north.

The police are warning the public to take proper precautions with children and small pets.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com