‘Cougar’ likely just housecat

Despite camera footage, Washougal River Road resident not convinced

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An animal, seen in the lower left hand corner of this photo, is a house cat, according to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Officer Thomas Moats. Nataliya Milushkina, a resident who lives near Washougal River Road Milepost 8, has wondered if the animal is a juvenile cougar. (Contributed photos courtesy of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)

A Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) officer says an animal originally believed to be a juvenile cougar wandering near homes off Washougal River Road is a common housecat.

The woman who reported the sighting, however, is not convinced.

Nataliya “Natasha” Milushkina called WDFW in early November, after spotting what she believed to be a cougar in her backyard. She said she saw the same animal three times on Friday, Nov. 16.

“It’s not a housecat,” Milushkina said. “It has a long tail and pointy ears.”

WDFW Officer Thomas Moats responded to Milushkina’s rental home off Washougal River Road, near mile marker 8, on Nov. 5. After hearing the Washougal resident’s description of the possible cougar sighting, Moats installed a trail camera on a tree in Milushkina’s backyard.

When Moats checked the camera on Nov. 9, there were no images, so he attached the camera to a nearby picnic bench. That’s where he caught images of the animal in question.

Moats determined the animal in the photos was a housecat, not a cougar.

“I also talked to a neighbor, who stated she and her husband have been seeing the same cat in the morning hours at their house,” Moats told The Post-Record on Nov. 14.

Meanwhile, Milushkina is trying to get her own photos of the animal she insists is a cougar.

Recently, she placed meat in the compost pile in her backyard, to try to entice the creature and get a photo of it. The plan was partially successful — the animal showed up, but the photography experiment failed.

“It was sitting there eating,” Milushkina said. “I tried to take a photo, but it ran away.”

Milushkina said she will stop putting food on the compost pile after she gets a photo of the animal she described as “the size of a big dog.”

Moats said of all of the cougar-related calls he receives in Clark County, at least half of them turn out to involve cougars. The other half are determined to involve other animals, such as bobcats.

Emergency dangerous wildlife complaints can be called in to 911, and non-emergency dangerous wildlife complaints can be made to the WDFW enforcement dispatch at 877-933-9847.