METALINE FALLS–A homeowner this week killed a cougar that killed a cat and dog in an open garage in a rural area of Pend Oreille County.
The cougar was one of nine in Washington wearing a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife radio collar as part of a cougar-caribou interaction study. The free- ranging cougar, collared two weeks ago, had not posed previous problems. WDFW biologists are trying to determine how many caribou, an endangered species protected by the federal Endangered Species Act, are killed by cougars. Caribou also wear radio collars.
WDFW enforcement officers said the homeowner killed the animal legally because he was protecting his property.
WDFW biologists monitor the locations of the animals once or twice per week from airplanes to determine the extent to which the cougars hunt the caribou. WDFW is trying to rebuild Washington's caribou population.
Wildlife officials in Idaho and Canada are participating in the telemetry study.
Although the study is in its infancy, biologists have found that only one cougar with a radio collar has posed a problem for the caribou-rebuilding effort. The cat has killed two caribou and may have killed a third.
Jon Almack, a WDFW biologist who lives near Metaline Falls, said rural northeast Washington is cougar and bear country. He said cougars and bears follow deer and other prey and noted homeowners in rural areas can minimize the likelihood of an encounter with a cougar or bear by:
- Supervising children playing outdoors and bring them in at dawn, dusk and night
- Keeping pets indoors or in secure kennels
- Keeping farm animals in sheds or barns at night, especially during the calving and lambing seasons, if possible
- Keeping pet food and garbage inside in secure containers so they don't attract the small mammals sometimes hunted by cougars and bears
- Lighting walkways and removing heavy vegetation and other hiding cover near houses and other buildings
- Avoiding feeding wildlife or landscaping with plants that deer eat