Local

Monroe family runs for cover after cougar appears, chasing cats through yard

Surveillance video captured a wild encounter with a cougar in Monroe. The big cat bolted out of the woods towards the Havener family’s home.

“It looked like a zoo animal was all of a sudden in our yard,” April Havener said.

The video shows the cougar come out of the woods at the edge of the family’s property and bolt toward one of the family’s cats, Tortie. The cougar chases the cat all the way up to the home where April, her husband Greg, their nine-year-old daughter and two other family members were. The family’s second cat, Tuxie, was also in the area and can be seen darting away from the cougar in the video.

“I could stretch my arms out front to back like this, it’s just huge,” Greg said. “It came flying out of the woods over there. It ran all the way across the yard here and then right here into the middle of all of us.”

Video shows the two cats scrambling to get away with the cougar not far behind. In the video, you can see the cougar almost pause and stare for a second at April and daughter who were sitting nearby. Her daughter took off into the house immediately.

“I saw her gone so then I reached down to grab our little new puppy,” April said. The two and the pup were able to get away safely.

“I chased after it because I was going to get between it and my family,” Greg said.

The cougar took off and hasn’t been seen since. One of the surprising parts about all of this is that the cougar completely ignores the family’s flock of chickens who would have made an easy meal.

“I was surprised to see all the chickens go toward the animal right and take a look and not run away which is why they probably keep getting eaten,” Greg said. Both of the cats are okay.

“I feel like they both lost one of their lives,” Greg said.

KIRO 7 spoke with Brian Kertson from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife who explained that cougars tend to get tunnel vision when they’re hunting prey.

He said the cougar likely got spooked once it realized it was near a home and humans.

“It is targeting those domestic cats and then it literally like at the house, it realized where it was and this is happening in real time, so fast and they’re covering so much ground I’m sure the cat was almost like woah where did that house come from,” Kertson said.

WDFW said in the last 100 years there have been two fatal cougar attacks in the state and 20 that have resulted in injuries.

If you do encounter a cougar, you should:

  • Stop and pick up small children.
  • Do not run. Running and rapid movements may trigger an animal to chase and perhaps attack.
  • Face the cougar. Talk firmly to it while slowly backing away, and make sure you leave the animal an escape route.
  • Do not take your eyes off the cougar or turn your back. Do not crouch down or hide.
  • Do not approach the cougar.
  • If the cougar does not flee, be more assertive. Shout, wave your arms, and throw objects at the cougar to scare it away.
  • If the cougar attacks, fight back. Be aggressive and try to stay on your feet.
  • Use bear spray or pepper spray if you have it.