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
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
- 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.