Northwest NEWS

August 17, 1998

Front Page

New cougar, bear warnings

sign

Lisa Allen/Valley View

New signs on the Snoqualmie Valley trail warn hikers of potential encounters with cougars and bears.

   by Lisa Allen
   Valley View Editor

  
   DUVALL--Due to the recent increase in cougar and bear sightings in the area, King County Parks staff, as part of a wildlife awareness campaign, have installed new educational signs along the Snoqualmie Valley trail and at various rural park sites.
  
   The public education campaign was kicked off in early June by King County Executive Ron Sims at Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park.
  
   "The Snoqualmie Valley trail has been identified as potential cougar habitat," said Al Dams, spokesman for King County Parks and Recreation. "Cougars were sighted in Carnation last year, and Tolt MacDonald Park is definitely an area that hikers could expect to see them, since the Snoqualmie Valley trail runs through the park."
  
   The new signs offer practical advice on what hikers should do if encountering a bear or cougar. The signs suggest that hikers travel in pairs, keep their children close, to not approach wildlife and to stay calm if sightings occur.
  
   "Cougar attacks on humans are extremely rare," said Dams. "But we need to keep the issue up front, since the animals keep cropping up."
  
   Increased encounters between people and cougars have prompted state Sen. Pam Roach (R-Auburn) to begin discussion on a bill that would repeal the current ban on cougar hunting with hounds.
  
   "Initiative 655 was passed that outlawed hunting of bears and cougars with hounds," she said last week. "Since then the cougar problem has increased."
  
   Roach said the less dominant cougars tend to come into populated areas and pose a public safety risk.
  
   "We should change the statute to protect life and property," she said. "This wouldn't affect bears. I propose to allow hunting with dogs for cougars only because we are seeing so many of them. Cougars seem to be losing their fear of man because they no longer associate people with dogs."