Methow Valley: Cougar shot near residential area

By Katherine Calhoon
Methow Valley News


Methow Valley, WA - An incident that could have ended traumatically culminated with the death of a cougar who has been a problem over the past month for residents on the Eastside County Road.

"I was out in the yard working when I heard the dog start barking," said Anna Cotner, a resident who lives near the smokejumper base. "I thought she was after a coyote, so I went over there but what I saw was no coyote."

Cotner said she saw the cougar come over a downed tree toward her.

"It must have been within 40 feet of me. I headed right for the house, figuring the dog could take care of itself—she could certainly run faster than me," Cotner said.

Cotner called the game warden, Cal Treser, who was at her home within 10 minutes. Treser called Chuck Smith of Benson Creek, who brought his two Walker hounds along with his brother Gary and his father Wayne. The hounds ran the cougar into a tree, and Treser was then able to shoot it.

"We had already been issued a depredation permit for this particular animal, because it had been a nuisance for the past several weeks," Treser said.

"I went out one night about four to six weeks ago because the dog was barking," Cotner said. "When the dog barks you need to see what’s up because he doesn’t just bark for no reason. I didn’t see anything, but the next morning a saw a cougar print about 60 feet from the house."

"We’ve been trying to catch this cougar since July," Treser said. "Numerous people had seen it, and it had eaten several house cats. About a mile up the road from Anna’s it had attacked three mules and a horse."

Treser said this cougar, a male, was around three years old and weighed about 115 pounds.

"A male cat will not allow another male into its territory, and with our cat population increasing, this cat chose to establish it’s territory close to town," Treser said. "A cougar will continually feed on domestic animals, getting habituated towards people to the point they are no longer afraid of humans."

"The horse was blowing its nose and snorting when I first got up, so I knew something was up," said Cotner, "but I never dreamed it was anything like this."

Cotner said the cougar had killed a deer and had already taken its fill, so it wasn’t "after" her dog.

"But the dog, a little blue heeler, can make quite a ruckus barking at it," Cotner said. "The dog was just agitating him. When I saw the cougar it was lined up on the dog, and it didn’t have any intentions to come after me, but I was out in the open and sure felt insecure."

One of Smith’s dogs had to be taken to the vet after treeing the cougar.

"We treated him for multiple puncture wounds to it’s neck and side," said Terry DeWeert of Valley Veterinary Clinic. "We had to stitch up his side where he got clawed."

"It was an interesting day for a little while," Cotner said.


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