Oak Bay police are not issuing a warning after a potential cougar sighting Oct. 30 near Anderson Hill, but they are encouraging residents to continue to report any sightings.
Police responded to a complaint of a possible cougar late Tuesday. The complainant did not get a clear view and reported seeing the back of something that seemed too large to be a dog, according to Deputy Chief Ray Bernoties.
“Given that info, we sought to validate the sighting and spoke to many park users including those with dogs. There were no other sightings, no tracks, and all the dogs appeared to be behaving normally,” he said.
“Thus, at this time, we have not issued a warning.”
Oak Bay police continue to encourage residents to call (250-592-2424) if they believe they have seen something similar.
“If we get a confirmed sighting, we would immediately issue a warning, however, even other partial, unsure sightings are helpful as we continue to assess this,” Bernoties said.
Cougars account for approximately 2,500 calls to the Conservation Officer Service every year, however many reported cougar sightings turn out to be animals other than cougars.
Cougar safety tips:
If you encounter a cougar, keep calm. Make yourself look as large as possible and back away slowly, keeping the cougar in view, and allowing a clear exit for the cougar. Pick up children and small pets immediately. Never run or turn your back — sudden movements may provoke an attack.
If you notice that a cougar is watching you, maintain eye contact with the cougar and speak to it in a loud firm voice. Reinforce the fact that you are a human and not an easy target. Back out of the area and seek assistance or shelter.
If a cougar shows aggression, or begins following you, respond aggressively in all cases as cougars see you as a meal: maintain eye contact, yell and make loud noises. Pick up nearby sticks, rocks, or whatever you have at hand to quickly to use as a weapon if necessary — crouch down as little as possible when picking things up off the ground. If the cougar attacks, fight back, focusing on its facial and eye area.
Call the Conservation Officer Service reporting line (1-877-952-7277) to report the incident.