Residents are warning that a cougar has been spotted prowling throughout the area of 192 Street and 72 Avenue on the Surrey/Langley border multiple times in this past week.
Delney Paterson, who lives at 74 Avenue and 194 Street, says she’s seen it four times this week, once in the early morning and three times around 8 or 9 p.m.
She describes it as a “full sized” cat, about the same size as a large English Mastiff dog, and believes it is a large threat to children playing outside at a densely populated development just up the road.
“I do feel threatened, the whole neighbourhood does,” she said. “It’s a big cat — it can kill. An animal of that size can be dangerous to the community.”
Conservation officers have been notified and are monitoring the situation. No action will be taken unless the cat shows aggression.
The B.C. Conservation Officer Service has many tips for how to deal with a cougar here.
If you do encounter a cougar, they recommend you:
• Stay calm and keep the cougar in view. Pick up children immediately — children frighten easily, the noise and movements they make could provoke an attack. Back away slowly, ensuring that the animal has a clear avenue of escape. Make yourself look as large as possible. Keep the cougar in front of you at all times.
• Never run or turn your back on a cougar. Sudden movement may provoke an attack.
• If a cougar shows interest or follows you, respond aggressively. Maintain eye contact with the cougar, show your teeth and make loud noise. Arm yourself with rocks or sticks as weapons. Crouch down as little as possible when bending down to pick up things off of the ground.
• If a cougar attacks, fight back. Convince the cougar you are a threat and not prey. Use anything you can as a weapon. Focus your attack on the cougar’s face and eyes.
• Remain calm. The cougar was likely just passing through the neighbourhood and will hopefully move on.
• Keep away from the cougar and tell others to do the same.
• Bring children and pets inside until the cougar has left.
• Determine if the cougar has been in the area for while. Are you aware of any pets disappearing in or missing from the neighbourhood?
• Cougars will often prey on house cats that are allowed to roam freely.
• The disappearance of household pets can be an indicator that a cougar is active in a residential area.
• Phone the Call Centre (1-800-663-9453) if you suspect that a cougar is hanging around in a residential neighbourhood or killing pets.
• If the cougar becomes threatening or aggressive towards people phone the Call Centre
• Determine if the cougar has been attracted to the location or is in the locale as a result of household type attractants being present.
• If any attractants are noted get information from the Ministry on how to eliminate or reduce the effect of the attractants. For example, a bird feed attracting squirrels (prey species).
• Cougars are not to be fed. It is an offense under the Wildlife Act to feed dangerous wildlife.