On June 27, 2014, at 11AM, to his own amazement, one man came face-to-face with a local animal many residents would prefer never to see up close.
Michael Nute explained he was on a ladder trying to remove a bee’s nest at his uncle’s home near 6th and Ballarat Ave when he heard a distinctive sound. He described it as a “deep throaty growl; the kind from a big dog.”
When he turned to see what was growling at him, nothing was there, but then something tried to break through the crawl space wall of his neighbor’s home, startling him up on the ladder.
He immediately contacted the neighbor to tell him about what he assumed was a trapped dog. The neighbor could also hear the animal moving around and growling beneath the home.
After a call to animal control and doing some research, Michael and the neighbor discovered it was quite expensive to call in a company to rescue the trapped dog. Being an animal lover, Michael decided to help get the dog out from beneath the home.
After removing plywood that was covering a small access point to the home’s old foundation, he spotted two large paws. Just as he was about to reach into the crawl space to help the animal he hesitated, realizing at the last moment that the paws were cat, not dog paws.
He then leaned over and peered through the access hole. With his flashlight shining, Michael found himself face-to-face and two feet away from what he described as a “very frightened, but very beautiful” cougar.
Then Michael said he ran – right into his uncle’s home screaming, “It’s a cougar. It’s a cougar.” He went into protective mode, securing the home and then made sure the immediate neighbors’ homes were also locked down and pets were inside.
Snoqualmie Police were called, whom Michael said arrived very quickly – within about two minutes. Officers secured the area until Washington State Fish and Wildlife Officers could arrive.
Once Fish and Wildlife officers were on the scene, they opened all access points to the crawl space where the cougar was trapped, providing an escape route, with the hopes of capturing the animal as it exited. An officer later entered area only to find the animal had escaped on its own.
Neighbor and local photographer, Mary Miller, said via social media that the cougar was a juvenile, probably weighing about 60 pounds.
Michael commented that he wished officers had been able to capture the cougar; that he was on edge the rest of the afternoon, “jumping at every little noise” he thought might be the cougar as he climbed back up the ladder and proceeded to finish the work of removing the bee’s nest.