Conservation officers in the Cowichan Valley are warning the public about recent cougar sightings on the Trans Canada Trail.
Officer Scott Norris said two cougars travelling together were spotted on the trail at approximately 7:30 a.m. on Sept. 2.
Norris said it’s the second sighting of two cougars together in the same area of the Trans Canada Trail, with the first one occurring on Aug. 22.
“We figure it could be a mother with a cub, or it could be two young siblings that are still together after leaving their mother,” he said.
“They may be in that area because it provides great cover and there are lots of deer for them to hunt, as well as a lot of feral house cats. Hopefully, they’ll just move out of the area on their own, but we want people to be aware of them until they do.”
Norris said people should take precautions while in that area, including not walking alone and ensuring they travel in groups.
He said dogs should be kept on a leash and, if you have children, pick them up immediately if a cougar is spotted.
“People should make themselves look as big as possible by waving their arms over their heads,” Norris said.
“Don’t ever turn and run from a cougar. People should back away slowly and, if the animal starts to follow, be as aggressive looking as you can. You must make sure the cougar doesn’t see you as an easy meal.”
Norris said the two cougars haven’t shown any aggression towards people so far, and the warning is just precautionary in nature.
But he said if the cougars do stay in the area and begin to show signs of aggression towards humans, then it’s likely a decision would be made to catch them and have them euthanized.
“It’s a fact that cougars just don’t relocate well,” he said.
If these cougars, or any other cougars, are spotted in the area, Norris said people should report it to conservation officers by calling 1-877-952-7277.