Body of male cougar found at Squalicum Beach in Bellingham

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDApril 23, 2014 

BELLINGHAM - What killed a young cougar found at Squalicum Beach last week remains a mystery.

The nearly adult male, weighing as much as 110 pounds, was found by a man walking on the beach Friday morning, April 18.

He reported it to the Whatcom Humane Society's Wildlife Rehabilitation Services, saying he wasn't sure if the cougar was dead.

"We take those pretty seriously. We don't want anyone to get hurt and we don't want it (the cougar) to get hurt," said Alysha Elsby, the services' clinic director.

She went with Paul Evans, an animal control officer, and found the cougar dead by the trailhead - about 200 yards from the wooden bridge.

They collected the animal and turned it over to Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife.

"There was no real obvious sign of trauma, which is bizarre to me," said Ryan Valentine, a Fish & Wildlife officer, after he examined the cougar.

The animal's teeth looked fine, so did its paws. There was one porcupine quill stuck in its right cheek. It didn't look sick. It didn't look like it had been clipped by a vehicle.

"Nothing was evident there," Valentine said. "I really don't know what it could be."

Maybe the animal got into some poison. Maybe it drowned, he speculated.

"I hate to see that. He was a beautiful animal," Valentine said.

It was unusual to find a cougar down on the beach, he added.

The animal was probably roaming in search of food, likely deer. It probably used water sources like Squalicum Creek as a travel corridor.

There's parkland in the area and swaths of wooded land, as well as housing.

Valentine said it speaks to the intelligence of cougars that no one reported having issues with the animal even though it was within a suburban area.

Reach Kie Relyea at 360-715-2234 or kie.relyea@bellinghamherald.com .

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