(Photo by Josh DeLeenheer)

Saanich Police have issued a warning after a cougar was spotted in the Royal Oak area of Saanich Saturday morning.

According to police, the feline was seen around 9:30 a.m. in the vicinity of Chatterton Way and Royal Oak Drive.

It was last seen in the 4500 block of Chatterton Way.

BC Conservation Service has been advised.

The Saanich Pound as well as Saanich Police are in the area searching for the animal.

It is recommend that people in the area keep their pets indoors if possible and to be vigilant of their surroundings while out for walks.

What to do if you encounter a cougar:

Never approach a cougar. Although cougars will normally avoid a confrontation, all cougars are unpredictable. Cougars feeding on a kill may be dangerous.

  • Always give a cougar an avenue of escape.
  • Stay calm. Talk to the cougar in a confident voice.
  • Pick all children up off the ground immediately. Children frighten easily, and their rapid movements may provoke an attack.
  • Do not run. Try to back away from the cougar slowly. Sudden movement or flight may trigger an instinctive attack.
  • Do not turn your back on the cougar. Face the cougar and remain upright.
  • Do all you can to enlarge your image. Don’t crouch down or try to hide. Pick up sticks or branches and wave them about.

If a cougar behaves aggressively:

  • Arm yourself with a large stick, throw rocks, speak loudly and firmly. Convince the cougar that you are a threat, not prey.
  • If cougar attacks, fight back! Many people have survived cougar attacks by fighting back with anything, including rocks, sticks, bare fists, and fishing poles.