Cougar Information

On Monday, August 5, the Mercer Island Police Department (MIPD) was alerted to a cougar prowling overnight in the vicinity of Pioneer Park, and it was observed clearly on security camera footage at approximately 6400 East Mercer Way before dawn.

Since then, possible sightings have been reported a handful of other times on the south end of Mercer Island but only two of these are photo-confirmed sightings, on Aug 5 & 6. (See potential sightings list in the right-hand menu.)

The City is working closely with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). WDFW officers are the trained and experienced subject matter experts in wildlife management.

MIPD asks that any resident who sees the cougar, immediately call 9-1-1. MIPD Officers will respond to the location as well as contact WDFW. Officers will investigate the report and make a determination with WDFW what resources to utilize to address the situation. While Mercer Island Police Officers are not trained to capture or track wildlife, they are prepared to use force if an animal poses an imminent threat to the public.

To report a cougar sighting, call 9-1-1 immediately.

This page will be updated regularly with any new information reported to MIPD or WDFW. To receive alerts, subscribe to project updates (right-hand menu).

Leave your comments in the forum section or ask questions in the Q&A tab.


On Monday, August 5, the Mercer Island Police Department (MIPD) was alerted to a cougar prowling overnight in the vicinity of Pioneer Park, and it was observed clearly on security camera footage at approximately 6400 East Mercer Way before dawn.

Since then, possible sightings have been reported a handful of other times on the south end of Mercer Island but only two of these are photo-confirmed sightings, on Aug 5 & 6. (See potential sightings list in the right-hand menu.)

The City is working closely with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). WDFW officers are the trained and experienced subject matter experts in wildlife management.

MIPD asks that any resident who sees the cougar, immediately call 9-1-1. MIPD Officers will respond to the location as well as contact WDFW. Officers will investigate the report and make a determination with WDFW what resources to utilize to address the situation. While Mercer Island Police Officers are not trained to capture or track wildlife, they are prepared to use force if an animal poses an imminent threat to the public.

To report a cougar sighting, call 9-1-1 immediately.

This page will be updated regularly with any new information reported to MIPD or WDFW. To receive alerts, subscribe to project updates (right-hand menu).

Leave your comments in the forum section or ask questions in the Q&A tab.


Q&A

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  • I feel that the City of MI is not critically listening to the WDFW responses. Their own website contradicts the information they are providing to MI. "Cougars are most active from dusk to dawn, but it is not unusual for cougars to hunt anytime during the day." As we approach fall and winter, the children begin leaving for school and returning to home in the dark ie dawn and dusk. So, again, I ask you, are you 100% confident that the children are safe? The City is responsible for providing safe transportation to/from school for our children.

    Marie asked 16 days ago

    The presentation WDFW experts gave at Tuesdays' City Council meeting helped clarify information presented on their website and what they have been sharing with the City, as well as other questions. Their presentation as a whole helps answer the questions expressed by the community and is available here: http://bit.ly/youtube_cougarpresentation

  • I would like to know if several hounds at once have been used to track the cougar. Fish and wildlife routinely use hounds in other parts of Washington. When there has been rain it makes it easier for the dogs to track the cougar. Bottom line is that without hounds it is essential impossible to track a cougar. Is the city and fish and wildlife prepared to accept responsibility for a human attack? If not-then it is time to put several dogs to work.

    Miresident707 asked 16 days ago

    Leading up to WDFW's presentation, the City shared questions and concerns expressed by the community. WDFW incorporated responses throughout their presentation. The full presentation can be accessed by following this link: http://bit.ly/youtube_cougarpresentation. At 1:30:43 into the video, the WDFW experts talk about tracking with dogs. Here is a direct link to that point in the presentation: http://bit.ly/youtube_tracking_cougar

  • Is the city 100% confident that the children walking to school and waiting at the bus stops will not be attacked by the cougar?

    Marie asked 19 days ago

    The City has been told by WDFW staff, who are the subject matter experts in wild animal biology, that they do not believe children are in imminent danger due to the cougar. The WDFW has also stated that If the cougar is still on Mercer Island, it will most likely be active only during the middle of the night.

  • Several reports have been auditory rather than visual. They haven't been making to the "Potential Sightings" list. If a recording was made, would this help identify the animal(s) that made the sound?

    JM asked 17 days ago

    Thank you for your question. Generally the MI Police and WDFW do not consider reports of cat-like vocalizations, screeches, etc, to be conclusive evidence, but a recording could certainly be helpful for analysis. The MIPD swiftly investigates all reports that it receives, however almost all of the noise reports so far have been determined to be raccoons. The remainder have been unverifiable.

  • Can Mercer Island residents attend the city council session with WDFW on Sep. 3rd?

    Concerned MI Resident asked 20 days ago

    The public can absolutely attend the City Council meeting! WDFW Officers and biologists will give a presentation to Council beginning around 6:45pm at City Hall. MIPD and the City have been sharing questions and concerns expressed by residents with WDFW, so they should incorporate answers to those questions into their presentation.

    The public can also watch the presentation live on the Council’s YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeJ06MR44sdsy8WyuMl-dcw) and MI-TV Channel 21. We'll also make the archived video available after the meeting.

  • My understanding is a screeching cougar is a female during mating season which can be anytime during the year. Since fresh scents are needed for tracking have the WDFW officers been to Groveland after the cougar was heard screeching at Groveland?

    Veranna asked 21 days ago

    The report MIPD received on August 25 from Groveland Park was not a screeching sound but hissing sound. MIPD searched the area where the reported noises were made and were unable to find any evidence of the cougar. On September 3, WDFW experts and biologists will speak to the City Council about their response to the cougar sightings on Mercer Island and share information about cougar behavior. They will present during a Special Study Session scheduled for 6:45pm at City Hall. You can watch the presentation live on the Council’s YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeJ06MR44sdsy8WyuMl-dcw) as well as on MI-TV Channel 21.

  • If a cougar is seen, and it is not immediately threatening a person (or pet), and the police can arrive quickly but the wildlife agency can’t... could our police sharpshooters be equipped with appropriate dose and mode of tranquilizer weapon/delivery system? With instruction, obviously. there seems to be no way the wildlife agents can get here fast enough after a sighting. And rumors are flying about the wildlife person being out of state for a week, anyway. What is “too long” after a sighting for the dogs to be able to track an animal? Thank you.

    LAL asked 24 days ago

    MIPD Officers are responding to all cougar sightings. If MIPD responds and the cougar is present, Officers will try to “tree” the cat (chase it up a tree) and keep it there until WDFW arrives. There are several WDFW Officers in the area working with MIPD and the City on cougar investigations, tracking, and questions. WDFW are the trained experts in wildlife management. Mercer Island Police Officers are not trained to capture, track, or tranquilize wildlife, however, they are prepared to use force if an animal poses an imminent threat to the public.


  • I understand that there have been few fatal cougar attacks in the US. The more relevant statistic IMO is the number of cougar attacks - fatal or not. What is that number?

    MI mom asked 25 days ago

    According to the WDFW, "Cougar attacks on humans are extremely rare. In Washington state, the first fatal cougar attack on a human was reported in 1924. Since then, state authorities have recorded 19 other [non-fatal] attacks on humans, including a second fatal attack in 2018." [The 2018 attack was in North Bend and involved a mountain biker.]