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You’re on a trail and see a cougar or coyote. Here’s what to do

Officials said coyote and cougar reports are typical for this time of year, and will try to get whatever food they can find, even if that means coming closer to town for easy pickings.
Officials said coyote and cougar reports are typical for this time of year, and will try to get whatever food they can find, even if that means coming closer to town for easy pickings. McClatchy

With recent reports of coyote activity in the Barkley neighborhood and the weather warming up for the weekend, State Department of Fish and Game Warden Dave Jones wants people to remain alert and aware of their surroundings while enjoying the outdoors.

A resident recently reported seeing two dead deer, one in a backyard off Barkley Boulevard near Northridge Park, and another on the Klipsun Trail just below East Alpine Drive. The man said the second deer carcass had jaw marks and had been eaten in various areas.

Jones said the way the carcass was left was indicative of a coyote killing, not a cougar killing. Cougars typically surgically strike their prey, attempting to break the neck of the animal to kill it, he said. They will then drag the carcass away, out of populated areas, and feed off the animal for anywhere from three to five days. Cougars will bury the carcass with dirt and branches, among other things, in order to hide it and save it for later, Jones said.

With a coyote killing, there will be tufts of fur left behind, the animal’s insides may be ripped out and the carcass will likely be left behind.

Jones said coyote and cougar reports are typical for this time of year, and will try to get whatever food they can find, even if that means coming closer to town for easy pickings.

“If it looks like a nice habitat for deer, that’s a nice habitat for a coyote,” Jones said.

If people come across either a cougar or coyote, Jones said to not run, because that could trigger the animal to chase you. Instead, make yourself loud, big and noisy. Odds are, the animal will run off, he said.

Sightings are more likely to occur during dawn and dusk, and Jones advise pet owners to keep their dogs on leashes to avoid possible contact with wild animals.

Denver Pratt: 360-715-2236, @DenverPratt

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