Thursday, February 01, 2007

Eating cougar meat sickens Washington hunter

The hunter was hospitalized for a time after eating the uncooked meat in October.

The Associated Press

WHITE SALMON, Wash. — Raw cougar meat, eaten by a deer hunter who found himself being stalked, is the apparent source of Washington state's first case of trichinosis since 2001, a health official says.

The hunter was hospitalized for a time after eating the uncooked meat in October but has since recovered, Klickitat County Health Director Kevin Barry told the Yakima Herald-Republic.

"I've been told by everyone I know who has eaten cougar that it tastes pretty good," Barry said.

However, he said that like other wildlife, it should be cooked first to minimize the risk of disease from various organisms, including the trichina worm, a parasite that multiplies in the intestines. Symptoms of trichinosis typically include nausea and high fever, and it can be fatal if untreated.

Washington state has had six recorded cases of trichinosis since 1985, state Health Department spokesman Donn Moyer said.

Barry said the man apparently had the required tag for cougar hunting but was looking for deer before he fell asleep. He shot the big cat after waking up when "he found himself the huntee instead of a hunter," Barry said.

Most cougar hunters are after the hide rather than the meat, said Madonna Luers, a state Department of Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman.

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