Possible juvenile cougar attack on horses is investigated

Incident occurred on Mount Norway

Fish and Wildlife officials are investigating minor injuries sustained by two horses on Mount Norway — possibly caused by a juvenile cougar.

Deputy Chief Mike Cenci said a warden responded to a property Monday, on Southeast 339th Street, Washougal.

“The injuries sustained were pinhole types of injuries — very small punctures — and a cut to one of the lower back legs,” Cenci said by phone Tuesday, from his office in Olympia. “That is not typical of a cougar injury. To say it’s a cougar is really speculation.

“One horse is quite a large animal,” he added. “Generally, cougars don’t pick that big of a target, but young cougars learning how to hunt are still getting used to being predators. It takes some practice to be effective. There is a steep learning curve.”

Cenci recommends residents call 911 or the State Patrol if they see a cougar in their neighborhood or their livestock is being threatened. A Fish and Wildlife officer would then be dispatched.

“If it is a cougar, they have very large territories,” Cenci said. “Whether that becomes a permanent part of any cougar’s route remains to be seen. You can secure your livestock.

“People shouldn’t go into cougar hysteria — particularly when we are not sure if one was involved in this particular case,” Cenci said.

For more information, call the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife at 696-6211 or visit www.wdfw.wa.gov.