A cougar which state wildlife officials had monitored for two months after it appeared in a backyard near Kent was euthanized yesterday after it killed a domestic goat near Carnation.
The young, male cougar, estimated to be about 30 months old and weighing about 130 pounds, was captured yesterday afternoon by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) enforcement officers and a wildlife biologist and later euthanized. The animal had killed a pet goat in a fenced pasture at a home in a rural area between Carnation and Duvall.
In January, the same cougar was captured, outfitted with a radio telemetry collar and released in a wooded area north of Interstate 90, after it was discovered in a tree in the backyard of a home near Lake Meridian, outside Kent.
Over the last two months, WDFW biologists have tracked the cougar by following radio signals from the collar, monitoring the animal as it moved through open spaces, greenbelts, stream corridors and wetland forests in the Issaquah-Sammamish Plateau and industrial timberlands in eastern King County.
"Monitoring this cougar has provided valuable information about these animals' movements and the habitats they select," said WDFW District Wildlife Biologist Rocky Spencer. "It's really the first time our agency has had the opportunity to gather this kind of information from a relocated animal."
Until yesterday, the cougar had not caused any pet, livestock or other problems.
"We've tracked it very closely and have been able to document that it did not prey upon domestic animals," Spencer said.
On Monday, however, while tracking the radio signal from the cougar's collar, Spencer discovered the dead goat in a fenced pasture with puncture wounds in its neck. One of the pasture's fence posts bore cougar claw marks and hair, and there was evidence the cougar had marked the surrounding territory in a characteristic fashion, known as a "scrape," by scratching up dirt and then urinating on it.
After discovering the dead goat, Spencer called in WDFW enforcement officers and private hound handlers who tracked the cougar and treed it. The cougar was darted with immobilization drugs, removed from the scene and later euthanized.
Under WDFW policy, enforcement officers attempt to capture and relocate cougars the first time they are encountered in developed settings, unless human safety is at risk. It is department policy to euthanize the animals if they reappear a second time in civilization or prey upon pets or livestock. Any cougar involved in a human attack is immediately euthanized.