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State officials use bait to lure possible cougar after two sightings in Olympia

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Reports of a possible cougar on the loose spread throughout Thurston County. On Tuesday, officials with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said they were following two reports of a cougar sighting.

Cpt. Dan Chadwick, with DFW, said the cougar remained unconfirmed until it was seen by DFW officials. He said while officers work to spot the big cat, they still take every reporting serious for the public’s safety.

“Both these reports were that the cougar was small, possibly young. And small young cats are going to be curious, they’re going to venture into the perimeters of urban areas,” said Chadwick.

Chadwick said the first sighting was reported August 19th around 9 p.m. He explained a woman was out walking her dog at the Watershed Park when she saw something suspicious. Chadwick said the woman pulled out her cellphone to use its flashlight and saw a crouching cougar coming towards her.

“She picked her dog up and made herself big by opening her jacket, just like we ask people to do if they do encounter a cougar,” said Chadwick. “Pick up any small children, small dogs, make themselves big, talk loud, talk firm.”

Chadwick explained a second cougar sighting was reported near Galloway Street and O’Farrell Avenue in Olympia. He explained the person who made the report claimed the cougar was sleeping on their front yard.

Chadwick said some people asked if they should be worried about the possible cougar in the area after someone was killed by a cougar in Issaquah in 2018. He said another attack like that is unlikely.

“We haven’t had a cougar attack since 1924 and then in 2018, we had our second one. So, very rare, very rare. Something that’s very unfortunate buts it’s very rare,” said Chadwick.

The DFW set up two trail cameras and a mixture of fish oil and cow blood to lure the in the possible cougar. Chadwick explained they hoped the smelly bait would attract the possible cougar toward cameras so they could confirm seeing it. He mentioned the next step would be to call experts to help them track and catch it.

Lori Wilbur walked her dog, Kessed, at Watershed Park. She said they visit the park often. After learning about the cougar sightings, Wilbur said would keep an eye out for the big cat and her small dog.

“Be wise about what you’re doing. Don’t let your dog run free. Keep them close to you and on a leash,” said Wilbur. “And, if he starts barking like a crazy man, walk a little faster.”

DFW officers asked the community to help them track down the possible cougar. They said any pictures, video, direct locations and other information would be useful to see, track and capture it. People were advised to send their information to enforcement-web@dfw.wa.gov or call the WDFW Enforcement office at 360-902-2936 or call 911.

The DFW also encouraged people to visit its website to learn what to do and how to stay safe when encountering wild animals, including cougars.

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