Kyla Degraas

Kyla Degraas

Cougar sightings worry parents

Sunriver area day care centre site of wild feline sightings

  • Nov. 16, 2011 1:00 p.m.

There have been multiple cougar sightings in backyards all over Sooke this year, the latest case being the backyard playground of the Sunriver Child Care Centre.

Just before dawn last Wednesday, a woman who lives just around the corner from the daycare spotted a cougar behind the building. Later in the early evening around 5:30 p.m., the owner of the child care center was leaving with some parents when they heard the unmistakable growl of a large wild cat.

“The owner was going to run, the parent said ‘no, no just walk’ and they got into their vehicles and just left,” said Kyla Degraas, early childhood educator at the centre.

Since then, the kids — ranging in age from nine months to five-years-old — have been staying indoors. Degraas said they made a call to the conservation office who responded by saying they “can’t come out unless small animals have gone missing.”

She said that was ridiculous, and wondered whether it would take an attack to get a  response.

“We’ve been stuck inside for two days, not even gone for a walk or play outside.”

The sighting is of particular concern to staff because in the fall and winter, it’s dark when kids are dropped off at 6:30 a.m. and also when they’re picked up in the early evening.

The daycare put up a big sign to let parents know and, for now, staff and children won’t venture out into the backyard where they normally spend up to three hours playing on swings, toy vehicles and other equipment. There is a black chain link fence that surrounds the playground, but it is only four feet tall and wouldn’t provide much protection from a wild animal.

Beyond the fence are trails and dense underbrush that is also home to bears, many of which have been sighted in the past.

“The bears are always getting into our garbage out front,” said Degraas.

Always isn’t an exaggeration — it’s happened about once a month since she started working there at the beginning of summer. Two Mondays ago in the morning when she was opening at 6:30 a.m., there was a “huge black bear seven or eight feet tall on its hind legs” knocking over their garbage. She knocked on the door to try to scare it away.

Degraas, who has a one-year-old of her own, said it’s scary and is hesitant of walking around Sunriver.

“I understand yes, we’re building into their territory but it’s a child care centre, it’s different than if it’s a business centre.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alphabet Zoo Early Learning Centre wants to relocate from Langford to 3322 Fulton Rd. in Colwood, but has not been approved for a P-6 zoning by Colwood council. Residents who neighbour the property, have expressed concern to the Goldstream Gazette regarding the potential daycare site. Neighbours Ryan Landa and Selene Winchester said the noise of construction has been disruptive to the area, and the property is not suitable for a daycare. (Photo contributed/Ryan Landa)
Proposed West Shore daycare stirs up controversy amongst neighbours

Neighbouring property owners are concerned about traffic, noise that a daycare would bring to the area

An Island Health nurse prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy Island Health)
Health authority opening 19 clinics to immunize Vancouver Island residents

Health authority anticipates more than 40,000 people will be immunized over the next month

Saanich Fire Department. (Black Press Media file photo)
Fire displaces three Saanich families from two homes

Saanich firefighters found the fire had spread to a neighbouring home upon arriving

The designation of March as Distracted Driving Awareness Month is among several measures designed to stop the use of hand-held phones. In 2018, Sidney/North Saanich RCMP, North Saanich Fire, BC Ambulance and ICBC partnered with Parkland drama students who played the role of driver, passenger and witness to simulate a car crash designed to prevent students from texting and driving. (Black Press Media File)
Police across Greater Victoria step up enforcement of distracted driving

More than a third of B.C. drivers admit to using phone while driving, even as most denounce practice

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating Mackenzie Courchene, a Langford teenager.
MISSING: Mackenzie Courchene last seen in Langford on March 2

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating the Langford teenager

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

A woman walks through Toronto’s financial district on Monday, July 30, 2018. A new poll suggests most Canadians believe there’s still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in this country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Canadians, especially women, say gender equality not achieved in Canada: Poll

Poll results themselves underscore the challenge, with more men believing equality had been achieved

This image provided by Harpo Productions shows Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, left, in conversation with Oprah Winfrey. (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via AP)
Race, title and anguish: Meghan and Harry explain royal rift

Meghan said she struggled with concerns within the royal family about her son’s skin colour

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is administered to a personal support worker at the Ottawa Hospital on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020 in Ottawa. Doctors in Alberta have signed an open letter asking for prioritized vaccination of health-care staff who work directly with patients on dedicated COVID-19 units. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
COVID vaccines for seniors in B.C.: Here’s how to sign up

Seniors 90+, Indigenous seniors 65+ and Indigenous Elders can book starting March 8

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Most Read