Officials advise how to report cougar sighting

DEENA MIGLIAZZO, Evergreen reporter

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Amid the recent cougar sightings around Military Hill, officials are reminding community members to keep small animals and children inside late at night.

Cougars are common around the Palouse, but there has not been a reported sighting in Pullman since 2007, Pullman Police Cmdr. Chris Tennant said.

He said that when someone sees a cougar, they should call 911 and stay away from the animal. Officials will try to locate it and call Fish and Wildlife to remove it from the area.

“I think we have done a good job notifying the public,” Tennant said.

During a cougar encounter, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website recommends staying still, as running or rapid movements could trigger an attack. People should keep their eyes on the animal, and try to appear larger by standing on a rock or holding a jacket above their head.

“If you are in a group,” the website states, “stand shoulder to shoulder to appear intimidating.”

In case of an attack, fight back and be aggressive. Try to remain standing.

“Cougars have been driven away by people who have fought back using anything within reach,” according to the website, “including sticks, rocks, shovels, backpacks, and clothing [or] even bare hands.”

Faced with this aggression, the cougar will likely run away, realizing it has made a mistake. In some cases, pepper spraying the animal’s face is also effective, but most people are unlikely to be close enough for this tactic to work, the website states.

Cougars are large predators, but they don’t like being around people, Tennant said. They soon find their way out of town.