Thursday, May 14, 2009

Washington: Cougar refuses to run, killed by officers

By K.C. MehaffeyWorld staff writer Posted May 13, 2009

BRIDGEPORT — State Department of Fish and Wildlife officers shot and killed an adult male cougar on the outskirts of Bridgeport on Tuesday afternoon.

It was crouching in what authorities called an attack position, about 20 feet from the officers.
"I felt absolutely horrible about the outcome, because it wasn't what we wanted to do," Fish and Wildlife Sgt. Jim Brown said this morning.

A resident in the 200 block of Fourth Street called Douglas County Sheriff's deputies at about 4:15 p.m. to report a cougar in a tree outside his father’s home, said Undersheriff Don Culp.

Deputies responded, along with Fish and Wildlife officers, to find the big cat in a tall poplar tree.
Brown said they were planning to tranquilize the mountain lion and relocate it. But because it was in a poplar tree, there was no way for officers to climb up and retrieve the tranquilized animal, since there were no low branches. If it fell, it may have been seriously injured on fence posts below the tree, he said.

Brown said officers instead used firecracker shot and then bird shot to scare him from the tree, but instead of running away, he fled to a nearby bush.

When Brown located him, he was crouched and ready to pounce, so Brown shot and killed him, he said.

"I know that posture from my experience and training. I had to make a decision right then, and that was the decision I made," he said.

A crowd of people had gathered, and although they were not close to the cougar, officers would not have been able to shoot him if he ran toward them.

"I don't know why it did what it did," Brown added. "We had brought the transport trailer and had everything there to relocate it, but we just couldn’t practically do that."

K.C. Mehaffey: 997-2512

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