WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

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January 30, 1998
Contact: Bill Hebner, (425) 775-1311, ext. 115 or Tim Waters, (425) 775-1311, ext. 119

Cougar sighted in Bellingham area

BELLINGHAM -- A mountain lion was observed early today at two different locations near the Western Washington University campus, state wildlife officers said.

Two Bellingham residents reported seeing the animal shortly after dawn in the Connelly Creek and Sehome Hill areas, according to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Sgt. Ralph Woods.

"We think this may be the same cougar that other people recently have reported seeing in the southern part of Bellingham," Woods said. "The animal is believed to have killed a goat and may have attacked other livestock."

Woods said agents have been trying for several weeks to capture the animal to relocate it away from the city and people. A trap has been set in an area where the animal has been seen.

People seeing the cougar should contact the nearest Washington State Patrol office or Bellingham police. The agencies, in turn, will contact a wildlife officer.

Woods said it is unusual for people to catch a glimpse of a cougar. Nevertheless, people should follow some simple precautions to minimize the odds of attracting or encountering one, he said.

For example, pets, which are easy prey for cougars, should be kept inside or in a secure kennel, and pet food should not be left outside. All garbage should be tightly secured.

People should also keep these simple rules in mind:

  • Hike or jog in groups, especially at dawn and dusk when cougars are most active. Make enough noise to avoid surprising a cougar. Carry animal repellent spray or a whistle.
  • Closely supervise children playing outdoors.
  • Never approach a cougar, and try to stay calm if you encounter one. Do not run. Pick up small children. Do not turn your back on the animal. Do all you can to enlarge your image and maintain eye contact with the animal.
  • If the cougar behaves aggressively, yell and, if possible, throw rocks or other materials at it. The object is to try to convince the cougar you are not prey.
  • If attacked, fight back.