|2/6/2013 12:42:00 PM|
Cougar sightings around Leavenworth to be expected, wildlife officials say
Reports of cougars roaming Leavenworth have been making some locals a little nervous and wary. In fact, a sign was placed in a local neighborhood recently warning of cougar tracks and dog having been killed.
Officer Danyl Klump with the Washington Department of Wildlife said they have heard the rumor that a dog has been killed. But every time they try to verify a name and number, nobody can tell them. So, at this point, they have been unable to verify if a dog was killed.
"If we had a verification that this cougar killed a domestic animal, we need to be called out to investigate that cougar did kill that animal," Klump said. "That is going to change our response. It steps up the public safety aspect of it."
If this cougar got the taste of a domestic animal, then it might change it's behavior to go after the easy food source, instead of what it is supposed to do in nature, he said.
There have been some cougar sightings reported in Leavenworth in recent weeks. There was the report of a cougar on Rattlesnake Hill, above the high school and middle school. A person spotted the cougar, which just turned and walked away. Principals at Icicle River Middle School and Cascade High School were notified.
"It was walking in the direction of Titus Road. The next morning, there was a report of cougar in the downtown vicinity of Leavenworth, just going across the road," he said. "We don't have have any reports of a cougar killing animals, dogs, cats, chickens or anything of that sort. We did receive a report of cougar tracks in somebody's yard on Whitman Street, near the DOT area."
Klump said people need to be aware there are bears and cougars around Leavenworth. It is very common. If this cougar was trapped and relocated, Klump said another would come in and take its place.
"We do live in a beautiful area, so this is to be expected," he said. "Our reports that come in increase quite a bit this time of year because cougars are following their main food source, the deer, into the lowlands. The lower elevations have less snow, and that's where we have a lot of cougar sightings."
If you encounter a cougar, Klump said make noise, and make yourself known. Do not turn and run. If there are reports of a cougar in the neighborhood, when you let your animals out, make some noise so you don't startle a cougar who might be nearby.
Small dogs should be kept on a leash. Klump said take them out to do their business and bring them right back inside.
"If a cougar happens to be in the area and sees a small animal, that is what it has been trained to do, go after raccoons, coyotes, deer," he said. "If they see a small animal, that is what they were trained to survive on."
While they have been informed there is a cougar around Leavenworth, Klump said the animal has done nothing to cross the line, which would cause them to trap it, relocate it or kill it.
"It's been doing exactly what its mom taught it to do," he said. "The cougar does not want to be seen by people. It's the time of year when they are looking for other areas of habitat. Just so happened, this is where this particular cougar is hanging out right now."
Ian Dunn can be reached at 548-5286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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