Cougar sighting reported near Porter Creek school

Recess was cut short Friday for Jack Hulland Elementary School students after a neighbour called in a cougar sighting in the area.

Recess was cut short Friday for Jack Hulland Elementary School students after a neighbour called in a cougar sighting in the area.

The neighbour said she saw a cougar in her Porter Creek backyard, said Ken Knutson with Yukon Environment. She also called the school to let them know.

The students were on lunch break when they got the call, said Chris Madden with the Education Department.

“It was just a few minutes before the bell was going to ring, so they rang the bell a few minutes early, brought the students in.”

The school also called Yukon Environment to inform them of the reported sighting, he said.

Students and staff were then advised to be mindful of wildlife in the area, said Madden.

“Make sure you’re walking on the street and in groups, and that you’re not taking the trails for shortcuts. The whole school community was advised of that immediately.”

Since the incident, the school continues to have recess normally, said Madden. The school yard is fenced in and teachers are always supervising.

“Everybody is just keeping their eyes open. So far it seems as though that sighting was an isolated incident.”

Yukon Environment responded by sending a conservation officer to the area, said Knutson.

However, the cougar sighting could not be confirmed.

“Without actually finding any hard evidence of the animal or actually seeing it, there’s not much we can do about it,” said Knutson. “Like a lot of Whitehorse, it has greenbelts and brush around it and forest and that sort of thing. If it was there, and it disappeared into that, we’re not going to track it down or anything.”

Cougars are notoriously elusive animals and sightings are rare in the Yukon. It is believed cougars have been following the mule deer north from B.C.

“We’re getting enough calls about cougars being seen nowadays, I think it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that they are here,” said Knutson.

Many of the same safety rules that apply to bears and other wildlife apply to cougars as well, he said.

“All of us need to be vigilant all the time, when we live in the place we live.”

If you see a cougar, don’t panic or run away, since it might think that you are prey.

Instead, talk to the animal to let it know that you are human, and slowly back away, if possible.

“They don’t generally seek out conflict with humans,” said Knutson.

If a cougar does attack, however, playing dead is not recommended.

“Fight back with a weapon, such as pepper spray, rocks or sticks,” advises the Yukon Environment website. “Focus on attacking the cougar’s face and eyes. Do what you can to let the cougar know you are a threat and not prey.”

Yukon Environment tries to get into all the schools in the spring to do bear safety training, said Knutson. In future years, the program could be expanded to include other kinds of animals, he said.

Any cougar sightings should be immediately reported to Yukon Environment, he said.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

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

Just Posted

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks at a press conference in Whitehorse on March 30. Hanley announced three more COVID-19 cases in a release on Nov. 21. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three more COVID-19 cases, new exposure notice announced

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, announced three… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: COVID-19 strikes another blow at high-school students

They don’t show up very often in COVID-19 case statistics, but they… Continue reading

The Cornerstone housing project under construction at the end of Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. Community Services Minister John Streicker said he will consult with the Yukon Contractors Association after concerns were raised in the legislature about COVID-19 isolation procedures for Outside workers at the site. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Concerns raised about alternate self-isolation plans for construction

Minister Streicker said going forward, official safety plans should be shared across a worksite

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, pictured at a press conference in October, announced three new cases of COVID-19 on Nov. 20 as well as a new public exposure notice. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New COVID-19 cases, public exposure notice announced

The new cases have all been linked to previous cases

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

City council was closed to public on March 23 due to gathering rules brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The council is now hoping there will be ways to improve access for residents to directly address council, even if it’s a virtual connection. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Solution sought to allow for more public presentations with council

Teleconference or video may provide opportunities, Roddick says

Megan Waterman, director of the Lastraw Ranch, is using remediated placer mine land in the Dawson area to raise local meat in a new initiative undertaken with the Yukon government’s agriculture branch. (Submitted)
Dawson-area farm using placer miner partnership to raise pigs on leased land

“Who in their right mind is going to do agriculture at a mining claim? But this made sense.”

Riverdale residents can learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s plan to FireSmart a total of 24 hectares in the area of Chadburn Lake Road and south of the Hidden Lakes trail at a meeting on Nov. 26. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Meeting will focus on FireSmart plans

Riverdale residents will learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s FireSmarting… Continue reading

The City of Whitehorse is planning to borrow $10 million to help pay for the construction of the operations building (pictured), a move that has one concillor questioning why they don’t just use reserve funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Councillor questions borrowing plan

City of Whitehorse would borrow $10 million for operations building

Most Read