People planning on visiting Fish Creek Provincial Park in Calgary are being warned to be careful in some areas of the green space after someone reported spotting a cougar there.
A post on Alberta Parks’ website says a warning has been issued for the Votier’s Flats and Shannon Terrace day use areas.
“Although an advisory is in place for this area, cougars can be encountered anywhere in the Kananaskis Region and at any time,” the post reads.
The warning was posted on Monday.
Alberta Parks said in order to help avoid a surprise encounter with a cougar, people in the park should make noise and travel in groups.
“Be aware of your surroundings. Look and listen for cougars and their signs.”
Several residents were in the area Tuesday morning enjoying the park and walking their pets. Those who frequent the park say they’re used to seeing wildlife, but admit a cougar warning is pretty rare.
Those who Global News spoke with Tuesday morning say they’re happy to take extra precautions.
“I don’t really worry about it much,” Jim Bolad said. “It’s a natural area, they’ve been spotted here before. I’ve never seen one here. I have seen them out in the Foothills but never here. They’re much more interested in the mule deer and the white-tailed deer than they are in us so it’s not something I think about.”
“As a regular user of the park here, I am a little bit concerned just for dogs or animals that might not be on leash,” Peter Ridout said. “We have lots of animals here, though, I gotta tell you. We’ve had a moose running around here for the last couple months, which is a great thing to see … and a baby moose.
“Over the years we’ve had bears, we’ve had a bobcat resident in this neighbourhood for a long time. So I’m not surprised. It would be cool to see.”
Roland Kirzinger, Alberta Parks’ acting manager for the East Kananaskis Region, also said the sighting was not unexpected, even if such sightings are rare.
“Cougars shy away from people and they are a large predator — any large animal can be (a) threat, even friendly deer,” he said. “Cougars are secretive by nature and loners in the wild.
“They don’t like wide-open country, so they tend to stick to areas (where) they can find cover. They are ambush predators by nature.”
Kirzinger offered some tips for people in the event they encounter a cougar.
“Keep your eyes on the animal (and) back away slowly if (the) cougar approaches,” he said. “Make yourself (as) big as possible, open your coat, speak loudly (and) never run. Make sure pets and children are close by (and) get bear spray ready.
“If on the rare occurrence it would attack, never play dead. Fight back with everything you’ve got. Use your bear spray until you can extricate yourself from the situation.”
For more information about cougars, click here.
Watch below: Some Global News videos about cougars.