8/6/2019 Update on Cougar Sighting Near Pioneer Park

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Earlier today, Police staff spoke with Fish and Wildlife Sergeant Kim Chandler and expressed the community’s concern regarding the cougar that has been spotted on Mercer Island. Fish and Wildlife will continue to gather information on sightings and attempt to track the cat. They did a trail walk-through with a tracking dog in the areas where the cougar has been seen in and near Pioneer Park.

Sgt. Chandler advised that he is available to answer questions and concerns about what Fish and Wildlife is doing to address the situation. He can be reached at (425) 775-1311 ext. 122.

Fish and Wildlife officers are the trained subject matter experts in this area, and we want to assure the community that we are doing everything we can to assist and support them. As always, MIPD will respond to life safety incidents.

Signs (pictured) have been posted at the entrances and throughout Pioneer Park.

If you do happen to have a close encounter with a cougar, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) advises the following:
  • Stop, pick up small children immediately, and don’t run. Running and rapid movements may trigger an attack; 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, especially if it is near a kill or with kittens, and never offer it food.
  • If the cougar does not flee, be more assertive, shout, wave your arms and throw anything you have available. 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 using anything within reach. If you are aggressive enough, a cougar will flee, realizing it has made a mistake.

There are a number of practices to follow that can help prevent a conflict with cougars around your property. Read more from WDFW here: https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/species/puma-concolor#conflict

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