A cougar was prowling on Mercer Island. At least, that’s what the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) believes given a report that was made and an image captured of the large feline earlier this month.
On Aug. 5, the cougar report was made with the Mercer Island Police Department in the early morning, according to the city of Mercer Island. The mountain lion was prowling overnight in the Pioneer Park area, as captured on security camera footage just before dawn in the 6400 block of East Mercer Way.
Capt. Alan Myers of the WDFW Police confirmed that the picture is in fact a cougar. And while there have been sightings on the Island in years past, spotting a mountain lion on Mercer Island is rare but not unheard of.
“Cougars are all over the place, in wide-ranging territories and habitats,” Myers said. “They go through urban areas all the time, but are rarely seen by humans. They’re very good at being stealthy and sneaking around.”
There have been studies that track collared animals, he added. And those studies show that cougars frequently go through neighborhoods. However, it’s still not clear exactly how the cougar made it onto the Island.
Cougars can hunt at all hours of the day, but are known to be most active from dusk to dawn. According to a city news release on the sighting, Mercer Island cougar appearances are “almost always brief, with the animal moving along quickly in its search of a more suitable permanent home.”
In Washington, there have been two known fatal cougar attacks. The attacks happened in 1924 and in 2018, when a cyclist was killed and another seriously injured in the wooded areas surrounding Snoqualmie on May 19.
“We live in a beautiful state with a robust wildlife population,” Myers said. “There’s all kinds of advice that allows people to cohabitate on our website.”
More information on what to do when encountering a cougar can be found on the WDFW website at http://bit.ly/2YFIesY.