NEWS

Cougar sightings near Esquimalt, B.C.

09/10/2011 09:08 EDT | Updated 11/10/2011 05:12 EST

Police on Vancouver Island are urging the public to be cautious after three possible cougar sightings in the past two days near Esquimalt, B.C.

The first possible sighting happened Thursday morning. Military police were called to investigate a possible cougar sighting in the 400 block of Peters Street. Victoria Police and conservation officers assisted, but the cougar was not located.

Two other unconfirmed sightings were reported Friday evening.

In the first instance, a woman returning to her home reported that she saw what she believed to be a cougar in the 900 block of Bewdley Avenue.

Later that night, two friends walking along the Esquimalt walkway near Bernard Park heard a noise in a tree. One of the friends shone a flashlight into the tree, but was not able to get a clear view.

Police were unable to confirm that either incident definitely involved a cougar, but Victoria Police Const. Michael Russell said they were issuing a warning because of the locations of the possible sightings.

"The area that this cougar is going into is home to a school," Russel said. "There are some kids programs that are run out of nearby areas, so that tends to be what certainly raises concerns for us — those children that are going to be out and about."

Russell added there appeared to be an increase of cougar sightings on Vancouver Island this year.

Russell said parents and children shouldn't run away from cougars. Instead, he said one should stay calm, maintain eye contact with the animal and slowly move away. Once you're safe, call police.

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