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‘It’s darn scary when you see one, but they’ve always been here’

Home surveillance camera catches a cougar prowling a neighborhood

A large cougar is photographed in August 2019 on a home surveillance camera stalking around a home in the Geneva neighborhood, east of Bellingham, Wash. The game warden says there are more cameras, not more cougars, in the area.
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A large cougar is photographed in August 2019 on a home surveillance camera stalking around a home in the Geneva neighborhood, east of Bellingham, Wash. The game warden says there are more cameras, not more cougars, in the area.

Despite the increased reports and video shared on social media this summer, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife says there are not more cougars in Whatcom County.

Geneva neighborhood resident Bryan Baumgartner twice already this month caught video of a large cougar stalking around outside his home on surveillance camera footage.

But it’s those cameras, Whatcom Game Warden Dave Jones told The Bellingham Herald, that are giving the appearance that there are more cougars and other predators in the area.

“The cougars have always been there — this is their habitat,” Jones told The Herald. “It’s just that now everybody has surveillance cameras and doorbell cameras and cameras on their phones and drones. What’s happening is the public is just recording wildlife more and sending them out.”

Anywhere that there are deer, Jones said you can expect to see cougars. But that usually doesn’t mean they are a serious threat to people.

“It’s darn scary when you see one, but they’ve always been here,” Jones said. “You will be OK. If you encounter one, just take the normal precautions — make yourself big, make noise and don’t run from it.”

In 2018, a bicyclist was killed in a cougar attack near North Bend, but the Seattle Times reported that was only the second fatal cougar attack in Washington state in the past 94 years.

If you love Whatcom Wildlife

Join us in our Facebook group Whatcom Wildlife. The Bellingham Herald created this group because we know so many people love to take pictures and video of the animals around us. And while we might want to publish a photo from the site, we’ll always ask the photographer’s permission first.

David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.
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