The City of Port Coquitlam has issued a warning to the public after a cougar was spotted in a residential area this week.

In a post on Facebook, city staff warned that the large cat was spotted near Blue Heron Crescent. There are several homes in the area and an elementary school located a few blocks away.

Walking trails are located at the top of the crescent, so wildlife could easily walk through the treed areas unseen.

Some visitors to the nearby Hyde Park Community Centre said they had concerns about the sighting.

"The aquatic centre, lots of children will be going out and playing there," one person told CTV News.

"Neighbours definitely talk about it. We watch out for each other," another said.

"If you're by the trails and you see some activity, you warn people. Some people put flyers up for bear sightings. It's kind of their area and we've taken over, so just be careful."

The city is warning residents to stay alert, keep children close and pets on leash.

Anyone who sees a cougar, bear or other wildlife is asked to report the sighting to the BC Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277.

More information on cougar encounters

Cougars have large home ranges and have been known to travel more than 50 kilometres in a single day, according to WildsafeBC. Often urban encounters involve younger cats who haven't learned to hunt, or older cougars who can no longer hunt in the wild.

Attacks on humans are rare but can be fatal. In event of an encounter, WildsafeBC advises staying calm, trying to make yourself look bigger and backing away slowly, keeping the cougar in view while maintaining a clear exit for the cougar.

Pick up kids and pets immediately, but do not run or turn your back. Instead, maintain eye contact and speak in a loud voice, yell or make loud noises. If a cougar shows aggression, show your teeth, pick up sticks, rocks or anything that can be used as a weapon, and fight back if attacked, focusing on its face and eyes.

Those in areas where cougars have been spotted are advised to eliminate food sources outdoors as the smells can attract them. Keep pets inside overnight, and use an electric fence around chickens or livestock.