methow grist 2011-2014 archive

Rude Awakening
Cougar vs black lab

There’s been another spooky cougar-dog incident—this time up the Twisp River Road.

crouching cougarPhoto courtesy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife from their general collection.

Glen and Anna Kominak, who live about a mile-and-a-half out of town, just past the Poorman Creek Road turnoff, were having a late dinner about 8 p.m. Tuesday (Jan. 14) after a long workday, Glen said. Shadow, their 90-pound black lab, was up on the glider couch on the porch.

“We heard a big commotion out there, and ran toward the door, which is only about 10 feet from the kitchen,” Glen said. Anna was in the lead and both were yelling. She jerked the door open in time to see a cougar. It came onto the porch and grabbed Shadow, then dropped him and ran off when the Kominaks yelled. Shadow is fine except for a sore right front shoulder and a slight limp. “There was no blood and no punctures or bite marks,” Glen said.

The Kominaks searched around with flashlights to make sure the big cat wasn’t under the porch. “But it was long gone,” Glen said.

What isn’t gone is their parents’ fear for their children’s safety. The Kominaks have a son, 10, and daughter, 8. “There’s no way they’re going to walk to the school bus by themselves,” their shaken dad told Methow Grist. Nor will they be playing out in the yard by themselves any time soon.

Cal Treser, wildlife officer for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said he “will be checking the area again [today] and be looking for a road-killed deer for the cougar trap.”

With hindsight, Glen said, he thinks the cougar had been hanging around because “Our dog had been barking in a different pattern…and the cat’s been acting jumpy and staying up in the rafters of the garage.”

The Kominaks have seen cougar tracks over the years, and two or three years ago, Glen said he saw four different cougars – two adults and two young ones – on the bridge at the Poorman Creek turnoff within a week and a half.

But they had not spotted any cougars on their property, or anywhere else this year, until Shadow was grabbed on the porch.

There have been an unusually high number of cougar sightings in the Methow Valley this winter. In addition, game officials have tracked and killed four cougars since mid-December because they were preying on dogs and livestock. One dog was killed and another injured, and two goats and one sheep have been killed – all in separate incidents over a large geographic area.

As for the Kominaks, their cougar scare led Glen to say, “It’s always in the back of your mind now.”


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