A rare sight was caught on camera recently when five cougars, which are normally solitary animals, were spotted together.
Ken Vanden Heuvel found photos on his Bushnell Trophy Cam from April 16 that captured five cougars in his driveway. The picture shows one cougar in the front of the picture, with four silhouettes behind it with glaring eyes.
Vanden Heuvel said the first picture was taken around 2 a.m. and showed one cougar. Two hours later four more appeared in the photo, a very rare incident according to the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
"Cougars make it their business not to be seen by us,” Madonna Luers, public information officer with Fish and Wildlife said. “Lots of people live and work around here in outdoors all their lives will never see a cougar.”
Add in the fact there are five of them and that rarity just increased. The state agency said that it's uncommon for cougars to hang out.
“Usually cougars are solitary animals,” Luers said. “They hunt solitary."
So what could bring these cats together? Luers said that it's likely a mother with her grown cubs.
"The picture I saw looked like it could have been an older female with a couple of yearlings,” Luers said.
Cubs will stay with their mother for the first two years of life, then venture off. They stay in an area where there's food, which is typically deer.
“Where you see a dozen or a two dozen deer there might be one cat working that area and that's predator/prey relationship,” Luers said. “There's always lots of prey and there's only a few individuals as you go up the food chain.”
Luers said the latest survey that state agency conducted counted roughly 2,500 cougars in the entire state. Although there's few, they are still out there. Luers said it's important for people who live in “cougar country” to be aware of their surroundings.
"Cougars can and do mistake people as prey in the right situation and we've had those situations,” Luers said.
Luers said the last time there was a fatality involving a cougar was in 1924 in Okanogan County.
“Cougars, like a lot of predator species are triggered by things running, things squealing, so small children running around and screeching can be a draw to predators," she added.
For more information on living with wildlife, please visit the Department of Fish and Wildlife's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/