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Cougar sightings in Kelowna park

Warning signs have been posted advising visitors to a section of Scenic Canyon Regional Park in Kelowna about recent cougar activity in the area.

The Regional District of Central Okanagan says one resident near the Field Road parking lot saw the cougar on their acreage on Sunday.  On Monday, two separate sightings were reported to regional parks staff by park visitors travelling in the KLO Creek corridor between McCulloch Road, Field Road and Mission Creek.

“While our staff has not seen evidence of the cougar, we’re taking these reports very seriously and are continuing to monitor the situation,"said RDCO spokesperson Bruce Smith.

" We’ve advised the Conservation Officer Service about this activity and have posted warning signs to let people know of these cougar sightings in this area of Scenic Canyon Regional Park, below the Gallagher’s Canyon neighbourhood.”

The B.C. Ministry of Environment’s Safety Guide regarding cougars advises that while human conflicts with these large cats are extremely rare and an attack is highly unlikely, it pays to be prepared especially when in a natural setting, like the Scenic Canyon Regional Park corridor.

“The Safety Guide recommends people should travel in groups of two or more and that you make enough noise so that you don’t surprise a cougar," Smith said.

"Carry a sturdy walking stick that can be used as a weapon if necessary and keep children and pets close at hand and under control.  Visitors to our regional parks must have their dog on a leash at all times and must stay on designated trails.

"Finally, the guide says people should watch for cougar tracks and signs and remember that cougars are unpredictable.  If you should encounter a cougar, stay calm, talk to it in a confident voice, pick up all children off the ground and never turn your back on the cougar.  Instead, back away slowly, remaining upright and do all you can to make yourself look larger, and always give a cougar an avenue of escape.”

If you observe a cougar or bear within Scenic Canyon Regional Park or other Regional Park please contact the regional parks services office at 250-469-6232 and the Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277.

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