Macauley Elementary School in Esquimalt has been placed under hold-and-secure after a cougar was reportedly spotted in the area.
Students and staff remain inside the school and its exterior doors are currently locked.
According to the Greater Victoria School District 61, military police contacted the school at 10:48 a.m. to inform them that a cougar that was spotted near the wastewater treatment plant at McLoughlin Point.
The school’s principal, Josee Paris, has since placed the school under a hold-and-secure and has sent an e-mail out to parents informing them of the situation.
“I would like to inform you that we are currently in a hold and secure situation as a cougar was seen in Esquimalt where they are building the sewage treatment plant this morning,” Paris said in the e-mail, adding. “Please be assured that all students and staff are safe and in the building. All our exterior doors are locked.”
Paris also wrote that students will be dismissed “one by one” directly to their parent or guardian between 2:15 p.m. and 2:50 p.m. Parents and guardians can contact the school if they have any concerns.
Macauley Elementary School is located less than a kilometre away from MacAulay Point Park.
Scott Norris of the BC Conservation Officer Service told CHEK News there has only been one reported sighting of a cougar in the area around the school so far.
“I would call it an unconfirmed sighting at this point right now,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of information.”
The conservation service is monitoring the situation and will take action if they receive more reports, according to Norris.
“We will see what transpires,” he said. “That’s where we are at right now; we’re just watching the situation for updates.”
Norris said anyone who sees cougar should report it to conservation officers and if they encounter it directly, they should not turn around and run away, but walk away slowly.
“Stay calm. If the cougar approaches you, get your arms in the air and act assertively and aggressively,” he said, adding that small children should be picked up immediately
To report a cougar sighting call BC Conservation Officer Service’s reporting hotline at 1-877-952-7277.