Cougar Sightings Continue in Aberdeen, Officials Say Hands Are Tied

A pair of cougars in North Aberdeen continue to frustrate not only residents who have spotted the large animals in their backyards and chicken coops, but also administrators at the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Scott Harris, a Wildlife Conflict Specialist for our area, said on CoffeeTalk yesterday, “We’re as frustrated as everybody else. Obviously, I’m not happy that they are in the area this long, but my hands are kind of tied.”

He said the large cats typically move on after a month or so, but a good food source like deer will keep them around longer.

Harris said trapping the cats can be dangerous to kids and pets nearby, and would likely end in their euthanization since they don’t easily relocate. Hounds would probably kill them, or far worse; herd them further into a populated area. “What if they run it across the street, there are some parks down at the bottom of the hill, we’ve been really tossing this around in our minds, I’ve talked to a specialist.”

Images of the cats in backyards all over North Aberdeen have been coming in from social media like Facebook and nextdoor.com since early June. Some sightings this week are reporting the cats in the East Hoquiam area.

Harris said he hopes sightings in the Fern Hill area are the most recent, as they could mean the cats are moving East, away from the city. He couldn’t confirm rumors on some of those sites about kitten sightings though, Harris said he’s not sure if we’re looking at two young adult cougars, or a mother and cub pair.

If you spot one, first make sure you are at a safe distance and not in danger, then Harris asks that you contact his office in Montesano at 360-249-4628 to report the sighting directly to them.

“Do’s and Don’ts” in Cougar Country

While recreating in cougar habitat, you should:

  1. Hike in small groups and make enough noise to avoid surprising a cougar.
  2. Keep your camp clean and store food and garbage in double plastic bags.
  3. Keep small children close to the group, preferably in plain sight just ahead of you.
  4. Do not approach dead animals, especially deer or elk; they could have been cougar prey left for a later meal.

If you encounter a cougar:

  1. Stop, stand tall and don’t run. Pick up small children. Don’t run. A cougar’s instinct is to chase.
  2. Do not approach the animal, especially if it is near a kill or with kittens.
  3. Try to appear larger than the cougar. Never take your eyes off the animal or turn your back. Do not crouch down or try to hide.
  4. If the animal displays aggressive behavior, shout, wave your arms and throw rocks. The idea is to convince the cougar that you are not prey, but a potential danger.
  5. If the cougar attacks, fight back aggressively and try to stay on your feet. Cougars have been driven away by people who have fought back.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife responds to cougar and bear sightings when there is a threat to public safety or property. If it is an emergency, dial 911.

If you experience a cougar or black bear problem, and it is not an emergency, contact the nearest regional Department of Fish and Wildlife office between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. In King County, the number to call is (425)775-1311.

If you need to report a non-emergency problem when Department of Fish and Wildlife offices are closed, contact the Washington State Patrol or nearest law enforcement agency.

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