The Conservation Officer Service received two reports of cougar sightings on Friday in Abbotsford.
Conservation officer Don Stahl said one sighting was reported in the morning near the Sumas campus of Abbotsford School of Integrated Arts (ASIA) on Lower Sumas Mtn. Road.
The second sighting was reported in the afternoon on Timberlane Drive, southwest of the first location.
Dave Stephen, spokesman for the Abbotsford school district, said the reports prompted Mountain Elementary and ASIA staff to keep students indoors during recess and lunch.
“Later in the day, after consulting with the conservation officer and hearing no further reports about cougar sightings near the schools, they returned to normal activities and dismissal at end of day,” Stephen said.
A third sighting was reported to police on Sunday in the Eaglecrest Drive area, but was found to be false. Several kids who had seen three deer run away concluded that an unseen cougar was responsible for spooking the deer, police said.
Stahl said cougar reports are not uncommon in Abbotsford throughout the year. He said the last cougar sighting in the city was in November.
The recent reports are in the same general area – near Whatcom Road – where a series of sightings took place last August and September.
Four sightings were initially reported on Discovery Trail where it joins Whatcom Road; on Rathtrevor Court west of Whatcom; in the area of Whatcom and Old Yale Road; and in the area of Batt and Bakstad Roads east of Upper Sumas Mtn. Road.
In one instance, residents had several chickens killed in their backyard coop and then spotted a cougar near the coop a few days later.
Two additional sightings were later reported – another one on Discovery Trail and one on a Sumas Mountain forest service road.
At the time, Stahl said it was likely that the sightings were all of the same cougar, which was described as about the size of a large dog.
He said the sightings dropped off and it appeared the animal had retreated into the wild.
Stahl said conservation officers receive up to 15 reports a year of cougar sightings in Abbotsford but, in most cases, no intervention is required.
He recommended that people who spot a cougar report it as soon as possible by calling 1-877-952-7277.
He said police should also be called (604-859-5225 in Abbotsford) if the animal is being aggressive or is not leaving a property.
A safety guide on cougars can be viewed online by searching “B.C. cougar pamphlet.”