[Article by: North Bend resident and pet trainer at Miss Lola’s Academy for Wayward Dogs, Melissa Grant]
UPDATE | FEBRUARY 22, 2017, 7AM
According to Washington State Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Officer,Chris Moszeter, the cougar that had to be put down was the same animal captured on surveillance tape, based on what he saw on the video. He added that the cat was very old, dehydrated, emaciated with missing teeth and a large wound on its chest – possibly having impaled itself on something.
Moszeter the cougar also had old wounds, perhaps from fights with other cats, and even if it had managed to get one of the chickens inside the coop, it was in very bad shape and was not likely to make it much longer.
In early January I wrote an article detailing how to identify some of the local wildlife in the Snoqualmie Valley. I never dreamed that such a short time later someone in my neighborhood would get a chance to see one of the big cats I wrote about.
Yes, in the early morning of February 17th a cougar was caught on camera in the area of the Cascade Golf Course (I-90 exit 32). A Cougar!
I have to say I’m extremely jealous of this close-encounter-of-the-wild-kind. It is extremely rare to see one of these secretive solitary big cats. Apex predators who reside at the top of the food chain, cougars travel long distances and only occasionally venture into densely populated human areas. According to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, physical contact with humans seldom happens:
“Cougar attacks on humans are extremely rare. In North America, roughly 25 fatalities and 95 nonfatal attacks have been reported during the past 100 years”
Unfortunately for the hungry cat, Gwen and her family know the perils of raising chickens near the woods. Shortly after moving to North Bend, they lost one chicken to a coyote and one to an unknown predator. The brazen coyote plucked one of the hapless chickens off during broad daylight – right in front of their eyes! Since then they’ve installed a warning system that flashes their bedroom light when something gets near the coop.
Early Friday, around 4:20AM, Gwen and her husband were awoken, looked out to see an emaciated cougar determined to get in the enclosure and have a fresh chicken breakfast. He paced, he clawed and he used his teeth on the door for about 40 minutes, but lucky for those chickens he couldn’t get in. Around 5AM he gave up and moved on.
Gwen posted the video on social media the next day and we were all excited about our new neighborhood resident. Then about 12 hours later the following day, Uplands [Neighborhood]HOA members were sent this email warning:
Cougar Warning (Friday, 4:30pm) – I’ve gotten a report from a resident near
the end of 149th that they have seen & reported a wounded cougar near their
driveway. Please be careful, best to keep the kids & pets indoors in that
area for now. More details as we get them…
Oh no! This area is very close to where the cougar was seen just Friday morning. Could it be the same animal? What happened between 4AM and 4:30PM?
What happened isn’t completely clear as of yet (I do have a call into Fish & Wildlife asking for details), but not too long after that first email, social media started rumbling that the cougar had been put down. Then the Uplands HOA sent out this update-
UPDATE – WA Fish & Wildlife officer arrived on scene. Determined the cougar
was too severely injured to save, with a large gash across its chest -likely hit by automobile. Sadly, the cougar had to be put down.
It reminds us all that we aren’t the only beings living out here in the woods. and we need to be very careful when driving near our wild spaces. I do hope our cougar friend got a nice big meal before he had to be put down. We will post updates as we find out more.
RIP big kitty.