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Big cats not confirmed in Clayton
Despite numerous reports from residents, conservation officers and police have not been able to confirm cougar sightings in Surrey’s Clayton area or along the Surrey-Langley border.
But the public is being asked to use take precautions all the same.
“We’ve had numerous calls,” Conservation Officer Jack Trudgian said Monday, adding no new sightings had been reported in the past few days.
“We and the RCMP have attended but haven’t seen anything,” he said. “We’re not worried. As long as they’re not bothering anybody, we’ll just leave them alone,” he said. “People just need to be aware that they are here and not to be alarmed if they see one.”
He noted the area is home to several ravines, providing a corridor for wildlife between residential areas and surrounding farmland, which provides habitat for coyotes, along with resident bears and even a few cougars.
A large deer population is their main source of food, he explained. Any cougars spotted in residential areas are passing through and will most likely move on.
Conservation officers are continuing to monitor the situation, but say there’s no need for the public to be anxious.
However, he suggested residents familiarize themselves with what to do if they encounter a cougar. First, remain calm, don’t run or turn your back on the animal.
“You don’t want to run from any dangerous wildlife. Just back away. Let them know you’re there.”
He also suggests people take precautions with house pets by keeping them close by or indoors.
Last Thursday, a cougar was sighted near an elementary school on 201 street south of 72 Avenue in Langley, putting the school under lockdown over the lunch hour.
And last month, a cougar was spotted prowling throughout the area of 192 Street and 72 Avenue on the Surrey/Langley border.
The B.C. Environment Ministry offers additional safety tips for cougar encounters, including keep the cougar in view, and quietly make the animal aware of your presence. Pick up children immediately. Back away slowly, ensuring the animal has a clear avenue of escape.
For more tips, visit www.env.gov.bc.ca/cos/info/wildlife_human_interaction/docs/cougars.html.
Report dangerous wildlife sightings to the call centre at 1-877-952-7277.