Cougar information sheet
September 2, 2009
For more information call Washington Fish and Wildlife at 425-775-1311 http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/living/cougars.htm#facts
Who to call if you see a cougar in Seattle
If you see a cougar during normal business hours (8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday), please contact the Mill Creek office of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife at (425) 775-1311. If you see a cougar before or after normal business hours, call 9-1-1.
Facts about Cougars
Adult male cougars roam widely, covering a variable home range of 50 to 150 square miles, while female home ranges are about half that of males Cougars are most active from dusk to dawn, although they sometimes travel and hunt during the day.
Adult cougars typically prey on wild animals such as deer, but also other smaller prey species including raccoons, coyotes, rabbits, hares, small rodents, and occasionally pets and livestock.
Cougars are typically lone hunters that wander between places frequented by their prey, covering as much as 15 miles in a single night.
Cougar tracks are about the size of a baseball, lack claw marks and are 3 to 3½ inches in diameter.
Cougars rarely carry any communicable diseases that are regarded as threats to humans in Washington.
Feline distemper (Feline panleukopenia) antibodies have been documented in Washington cougar populations, but the degree that is transferred to domestic cats, is unknown.
Don’t feed wildlife and feral cats (domestic cats gone wild). This includes deer, raccoons, and other small mammals. Remember predators follow prey.
Feed dogs and cats indoors. If you must feed outside, do so in the morning or midday, and pick up food and water bowls, as well as leftovers and spilled food, well before dark. Pet food and water attract small mammals that, in turn, attract cougars.
Keep dogs and cats indoors, especially from dusk to dawn. Left outside at night, small dogs and cats may become prey for cougars.
Use garbage cans with tight-fitting lids. Garbage attracts small mammals that, in turn, attract cougars.
Keep outdoor livestock and small animals confined in secure pens.
Encountering a Cougar
Relatively few people will ever catch a glimpse of a cougar much less confront one and cougar attacks on humans are extremely rare. If you come face to face with a cougar, your actions can either help or hinder a quick retreat by the animal.
Here are some things to remember:
- Stop, pick up small children immediately, and don’t run. Running and rapid movements may trigger an attack. Remember, at close range, a cougar’s instinct is to chase.
- Face the cougar. Talk to it firmly while slowly backing away. Always leave the animal an escape route.
- Try to appear larger than the cougar. Get above it (e.g., step up onto a rock or stump). If wearing a jacket, hold it open to further increase your apparent size. If you are in a group, stand shoulder-to-shoulder to appear intimidating.
- Do not take your eyes off the cougar or turn your back. Do not crouch down or try to hide.
- Never approach the cougar, and never offer it food.
- If the cougar does not flee, be more assertive. If it shows signs of aggression (crouches with ears back, teeth bared, hissing, tail twitching, and hind feet pumping in preparation to jump), shout, wave your arms and throw anything you have available (water bottle, book, backpack). The idea is to convince the cougar that you are not prey, but a potential danger.
- If the cougar attacks, fight back. Be aggressive and try to stay on your feet. Cougars have been driven away by people who have fought back. If you are aggressive enough, a cougar will flee, realizing it has made a mistake. Pepper spray in the cougar’s face is also effective in the extreme unlikelihood of a close encounter with a cougar.
|Cougars and Kids|
|Children seem to be more at risk than adults to cougar attacks, possibly because their high-pitched voices, small size, and erratic movements make it difficult for cougars to identify them as human and not prey. To prevent a problem from occurring:
(excerpted from “Living with Wildlife”, Russell Link, WFW)