State wildlife officers on Wednesday (Jan. 22) trapped two cougar kittens that were discovered beneath a deck of a house in downtown Winthrop. Officers were hoping to capture a third kitten that was still under the deck as of Thursday morning.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) law enforcement officers responded to reports of cougars seen at the end of Riverside Avenue near the River’s Edge Resort. The kittens had taken shelter under the deck of a nearby house.
Dan Christensen, supervisor of WDFW law enforcement in Okanogan County, said Thursday he hopes local residents will show patience while the agency works to capture the remaining kitten and remove all of them from the area.
“We’re asking for some tolerance. Let us do our job. We’ve got a strategy and a plan,” Christensen said. “When people demand that something be done immediately, the option is usually euthanasia.”
The traps were baited with deer meat from roadkill and set up next to the house at about 3 p.m. Wednesday. Electronic transmitters showed one trap closed at 4:50 p.m., and the other trap was tripped at 7:54 p.m. WDFW officials were able to move the two young cougars, estimated to weigh about 30 pounds each, into one trap. They hope the third kitten still under the porch will be enticed into the empty trap by the deer meat and the presence of the other kittens.
WDFW officers killed an adult female cougar two weeks ago after it was seen in the vicinity of the Wine Shed on Riverside Avenue. That animal was considered a potential threat because it was in town. A necropsy showed the cougar was healthy and was not pregnant or lactating. The cougar could have been the mother of the three kittens, although that is not known, WDFW officers said.
The kittens are too young to survive on their own, Christensen said. He has contacted WDFW’s cougar and bear specialist to try to find a facility to take the young cougars.