Fish and Wildife warns of cougar in Oroville area

OROVILLE – The state Department of Fish and Wildlife are seeking a cougar that has killed several small pets between...

Dave Alloway’s YouTube video of the cougar

School District issues alert to parents

“Though it is extremely rare for cougar to attack humans, it is important for people to know what to do if they encounter a cougar. If you come face to face with a cougar, your actions can either help or hinder a quick retreat by the animal.”  Troy McCormick, WDFW Polic

OROVILLE – The state Department of Fish and Wildlife are seeking a cougar that has killed several small pets between Highway 97 and Lake Osoyoos north of Oroville and a warning has been issued to parents with children in the Oroville Schools.

“WDFW Police are actively attempting to remove a cougar that has killed several small pets between Highway 97 and Lake Osoyoos in the last couple weeks,” writes Troy McCormick with the Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Program.

The Oroville School District issued an alert to parents with kids in the area of the highway and Westlake Road vicinities, as well as the notice from the Fish and Wildlife.

“We sent out an alert this morning to those on the bus route directly affected, and then later today we sent out the WDFW notification and posted it on our website and to Facebook for all parents just to make sure everyone is taking appropriate precautions to stay safe,” said Superintendent Steve Quick.

“There are currently two active hound pursuit permits in place in response to the incidents. Though it is extremely rare for cougar to attack humans, it is important for people to know what to do if they encounter a cougar. If you come face to face with a cougar, your actions can either help or hinder a quick retreat by the animal,” writes McCormick.

He also listed some things to remember in case of an encounter:

• Stop, pick up small children immediately, and don’t run. Running and rapid movements may trigger an attack.

Remember, 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. If it shows signs of aggression (crouches with ears back, teeth bared, hissing, tail twitching, and hind feet pumping in preparation to jump), shout, wave your arms and throw anything you have available (water bottle, book, backpack). 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, including sticks, rocks, shovels, backpacks, and clothing-even bare hands. If you are aggressive enough, a cougar will flee, realizing it has made a mistake. Pepper spray in the cougar’s face is also effective in the extreme unlikelihood of a close encounter with a cougar.

More information can be found at http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/cougars.pdf

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