Conservation service warns public after cougars spotted near Long Lake in Nanaimo

Conservation service warns public after cougars spotted near Long Lake in Nanaimo

WATCH: People are taking precautions in Nanaimo after several cougar sightings in the city’s north end. Conservation officers say the big cats are not showing any strange behaviour but it has prompted a warning for people living in the long lake area. Kendall Hanson reports.

People living in this north Nanaimo community are being extra alert today, on the lookout for a cougar that wandered through the busy area on Thursday and Word of the sightings quickly spread on social media.

“I realized my cat was outside so I rushed out to frantically look for him but he was on the middle level of the house anyway but all was good,” said Mark Wellburn, a Long Lake Heights resident.

It appears to be a mother and its cub, first spotted overnight into Thursday in the Long Lake Heights area

“Conservation officers did attend and the animals were gone,” said Stuart Bats, a Conservation Officer. “From the description of the animals, it did appear that the smaller one of the two cougars was chasing a raccoon or housecat. They couldn’t tell for sure and the larger one was following behind.”

Eight hours later, in broad daylight, another sighting in the Ross Road/Barrons road area.

“A lady was out and thought it was a large dog coming towards her at about 75 meters. Not coming towards her in a hurry and then realizes from its motions and when it turns sideways it was actually a cougar,” said Bates.

Cougars are not common in the area but there has been the odd sighting around Long Lake.

It’s suspected the big cats came from nearby Linley Valley.

Just last month, a cougar was shot and killed at Nanaimo’s Yacht club after it was determined it was a threat to public safety

But conservation officers say the cougars around Long Lake have yet to show any similar signs.

“We have no evidence or indication that it’s preying on people or pets so at this point, not a problem,” said Bates. “The only concerns at all was the second sighting was at daytime but again the cougar ran from people at 75 meters.”

But they warn people in the area not to take any chances, saying cats and small dogs should be kept inside overnight.

And while attacks on humans are extremely rare, small children should be kept close by.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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