LEAVENWORTH — Two cases of cougars running into people had very different endings in late December.
One cat, which was healthy and wandered into a rental home in Leavenworth, was tranquilized and relocated. Another, which was malnourished and acting bizarrely, was euthanized.
“If we can relocate a cougar safely, that’s our No. 1 priority, but if it poses any danger to the public, then our hands get tied,” said Dan Klump, an officer with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The healthy cougar did, however, frighten a family that it encountered at the rental home near downtown Leavenworth and Blackbird Island on Dec. 26.
“The cat nearly ran my daughter over,” Myron Hauge of Western Washington wrote in an email. His daughter is 12 years old.
“I was inside the garage unloading luggage when I heard the ruckus,” he wrote. “The cat leapt into a flat screen TV twice, and into the sliding glass door before exiting the way it came.”
That was through a back door that the family had left open.
“We felt the outcome could’ve been bad if the cat had become cornered,” he wrote. Hauge’s 12-year-old son was so upset that he refused to stay in the house and Hauge got a room for him and his wife at a hotel the first night.
Klump said that cougar was, however, acting appropriately as a wild animal.
“It was extremely scared,” he said. “It was going, ‘Why am I here?’ and ‘Why are you here?’ And it wants to get out of here ASAP.”
Wildlife officers set a live trap for the cougar and caught it, then tranquilized it on Monday. It was released outside of Chelan County where officers think no other cougars have established territory.
The other cougar situation was reported Dec. 27 when a cougar was suspected of getting into garbage, chewing on boots and ripping open a dog bed in the Chumstick area between Eagle Creek and Spromberg Canyon, Klump said. The next day, a man living about two miles away reported that a cougar struck a window on his house while he was inside watching TV. The cougar also took three or four swipes at the window. The man’s small dog then ran out its dog door and was found dead the next morning.
Wildlife officers, using hound dogs, treed that cougar and euthanized it. The cougar, which they suspect had also killed two chickens, was very malnourished and was acting strangely.
That cougar will also be evaluated for disease, Klump said. “He knew where the easy meals were in the Chumstick and was still very underweight.”
Klump said it is not unusual for cougars to be seen near Leavenworth during the winter because they follow the deer to lower elevations.
“What is unique,” he said, “is that we had two very different cougar situations in the same week.”
Dee Riggs: 664-7147