NORTH BEND, Wash. — Imagine coming face-to-face with a cougar. Not in the great outdoors, but in the crawlspace underneath the house.
Michael Nute thought he heard a dog stuck in his neighbor’s crawlspace, but he didn’t realize the dog was actually a 60-pound cougar until he was staring directly into its eyes.
“It was a deep, deep, deep throaty growl,” said Nute. “Imagine like a big Rottweiler growling at you.”
It happened on West 6th Avenue when Nute decided to help what he thought was an injured house pet.
“I started to reach for the paws to let the animal know I was there,” said Nute. “And I realized that those weren’t dog paws, they were big cat paws.”
State wildlife officials responded to the area, but the cat had already escaped into some nearby woods.
Now neighbors are on the lookout for the big cat that’s apparently determined to be housebroken.
“You’d think in a populated area that it would be scared off and not want to be around here,” said Angie Shackelton.
Shackelton is taking care of two kids over the summer. Now she’s worried about allowing the oldest to play outdoors.
“We’re just going to have to be extremely cautious,” said Shackelton. “Obviously there won’t any playing outside like they’re used to without parental guidance.”
Wildlife officials say if you do find yourself face-to-face with a cougar, keep eye contact and slowly back away but don’t run away because the cat’s instinct is to chase their prey.