Crime

Cougar kills dairy cow in rare attack in western Whatcom County

A cougar killed a dairy cow west of Ferndale over the weekend in a rare instance of a cougar attack on livestock in western Whatcom County.

The cow was found dead early Saturday, April 11, with about half of its neck muscle eaten and distinct cougar bite marks in its hide, at a small family dairy farm in the 6000 block of Kickerville Road, said state Fish & Wildlife Sgt. Brian Fairbanks. The cow had last been checked on around 9 p.m. Friday.

The isolated attack, just west of Lake Terrell and north of the Alcoa Intalco smelting plant, is somewhat puzzling for a few reasons. Cougar attacks on cattle are rare in the region, in general, but it’s “very unusual to have a cougar incident west of Interstate 5,” Fairbanks said.

It’s only the second time Fairbanks, who has 15 years experience in wildlife law enforcement, has seen a full-grown cow taken down by a cougar. Also, the cat passed up more than a dozen sheep penned in at a neighboring property.

Just in case the cat continues to prowl the area, Fish & Wildlife officers set up a large spring-loaded cougar trap — leaving behind a piece of the cow as bait — to snare, tranquilize and relocate the cougar.

Cougars tend to roam, however, and it’s very possible this one has moved on. Yet it’s a reminder, Fairbanks said, that we live in cougar country.

“They’re always there,” Fairbanks said. “Anytime you have a greenbelt, a cougar or any animal could be traveling through.”

For more information on cougars in Washington, visit wdfw.wa.gov/living/cougars.html.

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