01/16/2013 04:24 EST | Updated 03/18/2013 05:12 EDT

Cougar sightings in Merritt prompt warning

Officials in Merritt, B.C., are warning people to keep an eye on their pets and small children after two cougars were spotted near an elementary school.

City bylaw officer Bob Davis says a woman spotted the cougars from popular walking path Tuesday afternoon.

Davis says there have also been several bobcat sightings, including a bobcat attack on a family's pet cat this week.

"To some of the residents that have lived in this town for 50 and 60 years, they have never experienced anything like we have experienced in the last three days, the sheer number of sightings," he said.

Davis says the icy crust on the snowpack in the hills around Merritt have made it difficult for the big cats to track their prey, leading them to come down into the city in search of food sources.