bulletin board
events calendar
business directory

best friend
news briefs

Follow Us
Facebook youtube


Fifth Cougar Killed
Many calls coming in

A fifth cougar was killed near Liberty Bell High School on Saturday by a hunter with a cougar tag, after it was tracked by state game officials responding to a local caller.

So many calls and complaints about cougars are coming in that Cal Treser, local wildlife officer for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, doesn’t have time to respond to all of them immediately.

photoCal Tresser, our local wildlife officer, has been receiving many calls about cougars in the area.

“I have only responded to calls where something has happened, [an] attack or confrontation,” he said Sunday, January 19. Nonetheless, he is asking the public to call his cell phone (509-322-4356) with cougar sightings and messages, or to send him an email at

“I will continue to prioritize the calls as they come in,” he said.

As of Sunday night, his most recent calls were about two cougar sightings in Winthrop, plus the report of a cougar at the home of Jane Gilbertson and Steve Nourse, who live south of Winthrop off the East County Road. That call came in on Saturday and turned into a pretty good story.

Lifelong valley resident Betty Wagoner, who is house-sitting for the couple and feeding their animals, said, “When I came down to feed the mules [on Saturday], they wouldn’t come in the barn. Mules like their food, so I knew something wasn’t right.” She hauled food into the field for the mules.

According to Treser, “The dogs were acting weird and barking a lot” as well.

Wagoner, who suspected a cougar might be around, said she called the neighbors and they came down with their dogs. The next thing she knew, there was a lot of “ki-yi yippin.” The neighbors were “running and yelling ‘Cougar!’ The cougar was laying right under the bridge [across the irrigation ditch] by the [house] deck,” not far from the front door, Wagoner said.

“All three of us were calling the dogs. We got them all up in the house,” but that took some time because “those are cougar-chasing dogs,” she said of the two labs she is dog-sitting. “Our hearts were beating mighty fast,” she added.

Wagoner called the game department, which brought Treser and Steve Reynaud along with his cougar-tracking dogs to the house. According to Treser, the dogs found that the cougar had been in the barn where the mules refused to go.

Biscuit, one of Reynaud’s dogs, “got the hot track” and took off toward the Methow River, Wagoner said. “Steve had to go in the river, too, to follow the dog,” while Treser brought the other canine trackers back up the hill and drove them around to the other side.

The cougar was pursued across the river and “finally treed near the water tower behind the high school,” Treser reported. When it came down later in the day, a hunter with a cougar tag bagged it. (The cougar-hunting season is open.)

Treser said the cat was a 120-pound male that had been captured, collared and ear-tagged last year near Eightmile (up the Chewuch River) by Rich Beausoleil, a wildlife researcher and cougar specialist for the WDFW.

Wagoner, who never did see the mule-spooking cougar, said she’s spotted a few of them over the years. “They’re pretty elusive, usually. But there are way too many of them this year,” she added.

Treser also told Methow Grist that he has two sites where he’d like to try trapping cougars, but first needs to find a road-kill deer to use as bait, and he hasn’t “found any road kill lately.”

It’s been a number of years since there have been so many cougar sightings and confrontations in the lower Methow Valley, according to Treser. The game department has tracked and killed four cougars in the last few weeks after the cats killed livestock or pet dogs.

Read our previous cougar stories here >> and here >>


see past stories in the archive >>

Have a comment? >>