State wildlife police have received a couple of reports of cougar incidents in the Methow Valley within the past two weeks.
“It’s that time of year,” said Sgt. Dan Christensen, Okanogan County law enforcement supervisor for Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). WDFW typically begins to receive reports of cougar sightings or conflicts as winter progresses, he said.
A resident in the Hamilton Ranch Loop area near Winthrop reported a cougar “colliding with a sliding glass door on a deck,” on Dec. 31, Christensen said. The agency also received a report of a pet cat possibly eaten by a cougar in the Mazama area on Dec. 30.
An account of a cougar attacking and killing a dog on Dec. 30 near the Big Valley recreation area was posted on a local internet bulletin board, but Christensen said WDFW law enforcement was not contacted about the incident. A valley resident, not the dog owner, spoke to a local biologist about the incident, but WDFW did not receive any official reports, Christensen said.
He advised people to keep their dogs on leashes when out walking or skiing, to protect their pets and wildlife. In fact, keeping dogs leashed is a requirement, because the Methow Valley “established its own dog control zone,” Christensen said. “It enacted self-regulation, unlike other areas of Okanogan County. Anyone in the Methow Valley School District opted into a dog control zone. You can’t allow dogs to run off leash.”
Christensen said people who want to report an incident with cougars or other wildlife can do so by calling Washington State Patrol dispatch at (509) 422-3800; or WDFW dispatch at (360) 902-2600.