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A wild cougar runs away before it was chased down and eventually trapped and tranquilized in the community of James Bay in Victoria, B.C. on Oct. 5, 2015.CHAD HIPOLITO/The Canadian Press

Victoria police say they had to kill a cougar Tuesday after the animal was spotted near a school and residences.

The department says officers made the “difficult decision” to kill the animal just before 4 p.m. Tuesday because it was spotted in a busy area near the Selkirk Waterfront.

Police say the full-grown cougar was first spotted in the early morning in the same neighbourhood in the middle of a park, and officers killed the animal after finding it a high risk to public safety.

Victoria police say the animal was close to schools and homes and conservation officers would have taken too long to respond.

The department says it’s “extremely rare” for police to kill an animal and the decision was “not made lightly.”

Victoria police first alerted the public to the stealthy cougar’s pre-dawn stroll through the Vancouver Island neighbourhood, using loudspeakers on their cruisers to warn residents to take shelter.

A statement from Victoria police said officers were called to the Selkirk Waterfront area along the east side of the Gorge Waterway at around 5 a.m. for a report of a cougar sighting.

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