OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Police are trying to confirm two reports of cougar sightings near populated portions of Olympia.
One cougar was reported in a neighborhood near the Watershed Park and the second was spotted on private property.
Heather McPherson, a wildlife biologist, is behind one of those reports to the WDFW. Last week, she said she came face-to-face with a cougar that wasn’t backing down.
“I was just bracing myself to fight back, which you're supposed to do when a cougar attacks. And I was just thinking 'what is the likelihood that this would happen to me while walking my dog.'" McPherson said.
McPherson didn’t back down, either. She screamed, made herself big and drew the attention of a passing car, eventually scaring the cat away.
“In my lifetime, I can confirm two cougars that I’ve seen and I’m in the woods quite a bit,” said Capt. Dan Chadwick of the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.
According to the WDFW, this is the second cougar sighting in Olympia in the last two weeks.
Officers have set up a trail camera alongside bait composed of cow blood and fish oil as they try to catch a glimpse of the animal themselves.
“They’re opportunistic predators and they’re going to come and see what’s going on in their territory and they are going to look for a quick meal,” Chadwick said.
Attacks on humans are rare, they but have been recorded. Just last year, two hikers were attacked and one was killed while hiking a trail in the Cascades foothills, marking the second death by a cougar in a century for Washington state.
As for McPherson, she said she's not taking any chances.
“I am no longer walking that route that I normally do every night with my dog. I’m taking a different route and I’m just going to wait and see what we hear from wildlife officials" she said.
Should you come face to face with a cougar, wildlife officials said you should make plenty of noise and don’t run away.
They're asking the public to report any sighting and to review personal security camera footage as they try to catch this cat in action.