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Cougar reported near elementary school

A cougar has reportedly been spotted several times in Walnut Grove over the past few days, and while an elementary school is taking precautions, the B.C. Conservation Officer Service is trying to get more information about the sighting.

Ecole des Voyageurs is warning residents in the area of the school at 8736 216 St. that the animal has been spotted more than once during the past week.

Although students have been under lock down all week — being kept indoors during lunch, recess and physical education classes — staff felt it was wise to warn area residents of the wild cat's presence.

"As you know, the students spent recess and lunch periods inside the school all week,"Marie Fraser wrote in an email to parents.

"Given this latest cougar sighting, we have decided to follow the same procedures next week also."

Jack Trudgian with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service said he hasn't heard directly from the person who reported seeing the cougar, but he would like to.

"It really important we talk to the person directly," he said. "We only have the information third hand.

"Call us to tell us where, when and how many times, you saw it," he said.

Normally, when a cougar enters a residential area, its presence generates a number of calls, said Trudgian. In this case, there haven't been any calls to to the CO's line.

"It's not common, but it's not uncommon," to see a cougar in Langley, he said.

"There are more coyotes in Langley than anything, and more bears than cougars."

Langley is a semi-rural community which includes ravines that run north-south through the municipality, Trudgian explained.

On one hand, the corridors provide safe passage for the animals, but on the other, they can bring predators into residential areas.

But just because the animals are around, doesn't necessarily mean they are a threat to humans, he said.

Cougars don't like to be around people and will normally keep moving, following whatever food source they're tracking.

In Langley, they're usually spotted along the U.S. border, where there is a large deer population.

"Cougar attacks are rare. We don't want people to be alarmed," Trudgian said.

The key, he said, is to educate children about how to behave if they see a wild animal.

"Never run away from a predator and call us if you see one."

The bottom line, said Trudgian, is not to panic, to use common sense when a wild animal is in the area and to understand that they are a part of life in Langley.

Trudgian is asking that anyone who can report a personal sighting of the cougar in Walnut Grove call 1-877-952-7277.

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