NANAIMO — A warning from a conservation officer after a pair of cougar sightings in a heavily populated Nanaimo neighbourhood.
Stuart Bates, acting sgt. for the central island for the BC Conservation Officer Service, said what appeared to be a mother and her kitten were seen in the area of Ross Rd. and Barons Rd. Thursday at 1:40 a.m.
Bates said another caller reported a cougar nearby in the Woodhaven Dr. area Thursday at 9:30 a.m.
Witness accounts of the animals in both cases were bang-on and “reliable descriptions," according to Bates. He said a conservation officer responded but couldn't find any sign of the rarely seen big cat.
Bates said the early morning report may have been two cougars chasing a house cat or raccoon.
He told NanaimoNewsNOW the sighting is a reminder of the importance to keep pets inside overnight.
“If they (cougars) come across a small animal such as a small dog or small cat outside at night it will prey on it and just assume it's a raccoon.”
He said it's likely both sightings are related.
Bates said the daytime sighting in the Woodhaven Dr. area is a public safety concern.
He stressed incidents of cougars attacking domestic pets and people are extremely rare, but said people should not scream or run in the presence of an aggressive cougar.
“Just think of it as a 100-pound cat. If you roll a ball in front of it they'll chase it...don't be fearful, be vigilant."
Bates said Nanaimo gets a steady diet of cougar sightings, citing estimates that about 1,000 of the 4,000 cougars in Canada call Vancouver Island home.
He said cougar sightings generally increase in Nanaimo during the summer, but Bates attributed the rise to people spending more time outside.
A Nanaimo RCMP officer shot and killed a cougar last month at the Nanaimo Yacht Club.
Police and conservation officers reported the cougar showed no fear of humans.
Wildlife sightings in urban areas can be reported to the Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277 or by dialing #7277 on cell phones.
On Twitter: @reporterholmes
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