SUQUAMISH, Wash. - A recent cougar sighting at an elementary school in Kitsap County made wildlife officials take unusual steps to ensure the community's safety.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife (WSFW) set up a trap in the wooded area by Suquamish Elementary with the hopes of luring the animal away from the school and surrounding residents. Officials set up cameras to monitor the cat's activity.
There have been several cougar sightings in Kitsap County this summer, according to wildlife officials. A horse was viciously attacked in June near Poulsbo. Sgt. Ken Balazs with WSFW believes the same cougar is now by the elementary school.
"There's only a small distance between Poulsbo and the Suquamish area and a big forest separates the two," Balazs said. "That leads me to believe that we may have a juvenile cat just trying to find some territory."
Wildlife officials don't always set up traps due to cougar sightings but say this case is different because of where the animal was spotted.
"The small nature of children, the noise they make and the way they dodge around can trigger a hunting instinct in an animal," Balazs said. "In this case where there's children involved, we want to make sure we take every precaution."
Suquamish Elementary School has been sending notes home to parents warning them about the cougar. The school cancelled outdoor activities when the animal was spotted and continues to be vigilant when students are outside. Last Friday, the school sent home a letter asking parents to make sure children don't walk to school alone.
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