Cougar seen prowling through Mercer Island neighborhood

MERCER ISLAND, Wash. -- Police are warning residents after a cougar was seen prowling through a Mercer Island neighborhood early Monday morning.

Surveillance video captured the cougar lurking through residential streets near Pioneer Park. Wildlife officials have been notified and are searching for the animal.

The city says cougar attacks are extremely rare in Washington, but there was a deadly attack in 2018.

Here are some tips if you come into contact with a cougar:

  • 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.

To learn more, see this link: https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/species/puma-concolor

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