MERCER ISLAND, Wash. — After reviewing the security camera footage from a Mercer Island resident, police determined that an animal that was believed to be a possible cougar was actually a house cat.
"This cat does not have the same dimensions; head, shoulders and general size nor gate as a cougar," Mercer Island Police Department Commander Magnan wrote in a email to KING 5 on Monday.
"It is clear this is not a cougar but an ordinary cat," the department wrote in a Facebook post.
The video was taken around 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning outside a home on the north end of the island at Faben Point.
The homeowner sent the video to Mercer Island Police for review. Police and the Department of Fish and Wildlife have been working to catch a cougar on the island since it was first spotted in August.
Police have been posting updates on the City of Mercer Island's website. On October 1, a report was made about a possible cougar sighting at Ellis Pond.
"When the officer met the reporting party onsite, there was some uncertainty as to whether the animal seen was a cougar or another dog," said the report.
Police said the only photo confirmed sighting of the cougar were on August 5 and 6.
Call 911 immediately if you see a cougar in a residential area. If a cougar is found, experts will attempt to relocate it.
The animals are most active between dusk to dawn. Attacks on humans in Washington state are extremely rare.
If you have a close encounter with a cougar, Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife advises the following to prevent an attack:
- Stop, pick up small children immediately, and don’t run. Running and rapid movements may 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 (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, shout, wave your arms and throw anything you have available. 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. If you are aggressive enough, a cougar will flee, realizing it has made a mistake.