OLYMPIA - A cougar found roaming an East Wenatchee neighborhood Friday afternoon was shot and killed because of public safety concerns, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
The decision to shoot the animal came after a small crowd had gathered to watch the cougar, said WDFW Wildlife Biologist Rich Beausoleil. The animal reportedly ran into a resident's garage before fleeing through the neighborhood and into a nearby brushy area.
The cougar was shot by a WDFW enforcement officer who, along with Beausoleil, responded to the scene. Beausoleil, a bear and cougar specialist, said the decision to kill the cougar, rather than tranquilize and relocate the cat, was based on a concern for public safety.
"Tranquilizing drugs sometimes take a while to take effect, and the cat could have escaped and come into contact with someone," he said. "Public safety is always paramount when dealing with dangerous wildlife issues."
WDFW personnel were assisted by local law enforcement officials during the incident.
Beausoleil performed a brief necropsy on the animal and found the cougar was in extremely poor shape.
"She was very malnourished with virtually no body fat and no food at all in her system," he said.
WDFW has a toll-free dangerous wildlife incident reporting hotline, at 1-800-477-6224.