On July 19, after seeing her neighbor’s dog rolled by a cougar, a Washington state woman saved the day by bounding forward and—blowing her air horn. The Mason County Sheriff’s Office reported that the incident took place at 11 a.m. near a golf course in the settlement of Hoodsport, which is located in the Olympic Mountains just south of Lake Cushman, about 45 miles southwest of Seattle.
According to officials, an unidentified man was walking his dog when Terry Hutchinson stopped to talk with him. Suddenly, a cougar appeared and pounced on the unsuspecting pup. “This cougar just shot out of the woods,” Hutchinson told King5 News. “It just grabbed his dog and pulled him to the ground…It was pretty scary.”
When the cougar tackled the leashed dog the man was pulled forward and fell to the ground, Hutchinson explained. She feared that the mountain lion might pounce on him next since he was in a vulnerable position. She acted quickly, releasing a blast from her horn that she believes scared the cougar. It released the dog and ran back into the woods. The man was not seriously injured, and according to the sheriff’s office, the dog will be OK.
Four Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) officers, a houndsman, and four walker hounds were dispatched a few hours later to search for the cougar. They found tracks that led away from homes and into the forest. But the effort was suspended after several hours of searching due to bad weather and difficult conditions. Officials said the attacking mountain lion would likely have been killed if located, but they have no further plans to track, capture, or kill the animal.
It’s rare for cougars to interact with humans in Washington state. Hutchinson, a 36-year resident of Lake Cushman , said she carries the horn with her because she has seen bears over the years—but she’d never seen a cougar until this incident.
If an encounter does happen, the WDFW says, people shouldn’t run as it could trigger a cougar’s chase instinct. Instead, they should make noise and appear large. If attacked, they should use bear spray and fight back. In this case, it appears the noise did the trick.