The Sehome Arboretum supplies a 180-acre oasis, complete with native flora, walking trails, observation tower and, apparently, cougars.
On the night of May 21, Richard Bliss sighted a cougar on 25th Street and Bill McDonald Parkway. After he saw it, the cougar, which he predicted to weigh about 150 pounds, ran towards the arboretum.
University Police sent a campus-wide e-mail warning students and faculty of the sighting.
Assistant Chief of University Police Dave Doughty said the Department of Fish and Wildlife aren't going to come and track the cougar at this point. He said that in his 35 years with UP he's known of one or two reports of cougar sightings near campus.
Doughty said he didn't know how the cougar got there, but that the arboretum supplies habitat for deer, coyote raccoons and the occasional cougar. He said a cougar used to prowl around Red Square in the mornings, but there has never been an incident near campus between cougar and human.
“A cougar by himself doesn't pose a threat, it's stupid people that pose a threat,” Doughty said. “It will leave you alone unless you do something to provoke it.”
Western Freshmen Chelsea Bourdess and Nikki Brown said they weren't really worried about the cougar.
“I don't really go wandering around in the woods in the middle of the night,” Bourdess said.
A source from the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife said if an individual encounters a cougar they should make a lot of noise, try to look as big as possible and call the WDFW or the police. Don't run, but slowly back away while maintaining eye contact. Cougars want to avoid humans just as much as humans want to avoid cougars, she said. Humans can avoid contact by picking up after themselves, either by not littering in wooded areas such as the Sehome Arboretum or by keeping garbage cans in protected places and even cleaning the barbecue after each use.
For more information call the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife at 360.902.2515, or visit wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/cougar/dosdonts.html.