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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Laid-off hotel workers demanding the right to return to work at Victoria protest

Businesses in accommodation and food sector report laying off 80 per cent of workforce

Sooke homeless camp to stay until a solution is found

To forbid Ed Macgregor camp would go against Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Canadians with disabilities disproportionately hit by COVID-19 pandemic

More than four out of 10 British Columbians aged 70 and up have various disabilities

B.C. records 31 new cases, six deaths over three days due to COVID-19

There are 166 active cases in B.C., 16 people in hospital

96-year-old woman scales B.C. butte with help of family, friends

‘I did as I was told and I enjoyed every minute of it’

Parallel crises: How COVID-19 exacerbated B.C.’s drug overdose emergency

Part 1: Officials say isolation, toxic drug supply, CERB, contributing to crisis

Camping offers a great pandemic escape, for less money than you might think

But for many first-timers, knowing what to bring can be a challenge

Turbulence in Canadian opinion on airlines COVID-19 response: poll

Thousands of people have beseeched Transport Minister Marc Garneau to compel airlines to issue refunds,

Police issue warning after baby comes across suspected drugs in Kamloops park

The 11-month-old girl’s mother posted photos on social media showing a small plastic bag containing a purple substance

Collision results in train derailment just east of Golden

The derailment occurred Sunday night, according to a statement from CP

Most Read