Cougar spotted in Port Angeles

PORT ANGELES — A cougar was spotted crossing the Tumwater Truck Route in front of a Port Angeles police officer’s patrol car at about 2:20 a.m. Wednesday, police said.

Officer Zach Moore said the adult cougar crossed the road from west to east then disappeared into the ravine in the 1200 block of the truck route.

“It’s very unusual to actually observe a cougar within the city limits,” Port Angeles Deputy Chief of Police Jason Viada said in a Wednesday interview.

“We hear about it from time to time. People call in sightings from seeing them in yards.”

Several cougar sightings were reported in west Port Angeles and south of the city last summer, primarily near Lincoln Park and the Tumwater Creek drainage.

State fish and wildlife officials said the cougar that was prowling the area last July and August might have been the same animal that was shot and killed by an 18-year-old woman along Black Diamond Road in unincorporated Clallam County on Aug. 24.

The woman shot the 60-pound female with a hunting rifle from about 50 to 100 yards away to protect her kitten on her property, a Fish and Wildlife official said.

Port Angeles Police Cpl. Clay Rife said he was unaware of recent cougar sightings prior to Wednesday.

In response to the Wednesday sighting, Port Angeles police posted on its Facebook page the following safety tips to keep in mind if you encounter a cougar:

• Stop, pick up small children and don’t run. Running and rapid movements might 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 by stepping onto a rock or stump. If wearing a jacket, hold it open to increase your apparent size. If you are in a group, stand shoulder-to-shoulder.

• 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. If it shows signs of aggression — crouches with ears back, teeth bared, hissing, tail twitching and hind feet pumping — shout, wave your arms and throw any available objects.

• If the cougar attacks, fight back. Be aggressive and try to stay on your feet.

Pepper spray in the cougar’s face is also effective in an extremely unlikely close encounter with a cougar, police said.

To report a problem with a cougar or black bear, call the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s regional office at 360-249-4628. Only call 9-1-1 if there is an immediate emergency.

For information on cougars, go to www.tinyurl.com/PDN-cougars.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@ peninsuladailynews.com.

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