By Ann McCreary
Three cougars were shot and killed on or near the Lookout Mountain ranch of Tom White in Twisp in the past two weeks, including an emaciated female that followed one of the White children to the door of their house.
The incident involving the female cougar began in the early hours of Thursday morning (Feb. 20) when a family dog began barking around 2:30 a.m., said Cal Treser, enforcement officer for Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
White went outside to investigate and discovered a cougar apparently trying to get into a pen holding cows and calves, Treser said. White frightened the cougar away, but the cougar returned two hours later and White again shooed it away.
The White’s three children returned home from school around 3:30 p.m., and Tanner White, 14, went outside to feed the family’s dogs. As he was walking back toward the house, a cougar came out from behind or under one of the vehicles parked in the driveway of the home, Treser said.
Tanner entered the house and shut the door, and his father, who was near the door at the time, looked outside and saw the cougar “not 10 feet from the door,” Treser said.
White’s daughter Shelby, 11, who had a cougar tag, got her rifle and shot the cougar as it stood outside the house.
Treser said the animal was “very thin, emaciated.” He said it appeared to be about 4 years old and weighed only 50 pounds, while a healthy adult female would weigh about 100 pounds. “It was starving to death,” Treser said.
Also last week, a hunter from the Puget Sound area followed cougar tracks on Lookout Mountain Road. He found and shot the cougar, a 2-3 year old female, near the driveway of Tom White’s home on Feb. 18, Treser said.
Another White child, Cody, age 9, shot a cougar the previous week, Treser said. Cody, who also had a tag to hunt cougar, found tracks near the house on Feb. 13 and followed them to a hillside above a field where cows are kept during calving, Treser said. He said the cougar, a 120-pound male, was on the hillside when it was shot.
Tracks of yet another cougar have been found near the White ranch, Treser said.
A snowplow driver on Studhorse Mountain reported seeing a cougar run across the road and up a tree on Feb. 16, and another cougar was reported in the Twin Lakes housing subdivision last week, Treser said.
This winter 10 cougars have been killed in the Methow Valley, five by state wildlife officials after the cats attacked livestock or pets, and five by hunters, Treser said.
Hunters who received special permits by WDFW to hunt cougars with hounds in the Methow Valley have not reported taking any cats, Treser said this week.
As a result of the higher-than-normal number of cougar predations and encounters, WDFW earlier this month issued three special permits allowing hunting with hounds as part of a cougar removal program. Each permit allows one cougar to be killed.
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