Having a cougar kill your cat is not something you expect when you live in a quiet residential neighborhood near the middle of Clearwater.
“A cougar was the last thing that crossed my mind,” said Callie Braham after a cougar killed her cat in the backyard of her home in Weyerhaeuser subdivision.
As reported in last week’s Times, Clearwater resident Barry Joneson had a close encounter with the big feline after Braham arranged for him to collect the dead cat’s body.
Clearwater RCMP ended up having to shoot the cougar when they decided it posed a risk to the public.
The situation began at about 4 a.m. on Nov. 21 when her partner, logger Brian Winne, put one of their cats outside before leaving for work.
The rest of the family got up at 6 a.m. One of their two sons, Chance, age four, looked out the window into the backyard and said, “Thor (the cat’s name) is asleep on the leaf pile.”
Braham looked and the cat was laying very still. She shook a can of food but there was no response to the noise.
Opening the patio door, she took a closer look and could see there was blood on the cat’s body.
“It looked dead and I thought maybe it had been hit by a car,” she said. “I didn’t take a closer look. I didn’t want to deal with it at that time.”
Her son Brody, age eight, was very close to Thor and often slept with the cat. He would be upset if he was dead, she thought.
Usually, Brody walks to the nearby school-bus stop but this time she drove him to school.
She arranged for Joneson to come and put the cat’s body in a box so they could have a small funeral for it.
After she got to work, someone tagged her on social media that there had been a cougar sighted in Weyerhaeuser.
She raced home and found four police cars parked in front of her house.
Joneson was there and told her he had encountered the big cat in her backyard.
While they were talking they heard six gunshots from two or three houses away.
Police had shot the cougar when it entered the tarped-in porch of a house under renovation.
The big cat had a noticeable limp, appeared hungry and in poor health, and so was likely unable to feed itself.
Braham said there were dig marks on one side of her backyard, indicating that, although it eventually escaped, the cougar had been unable to jump the fence – normally a trivial effort.
Braham noted that their dog, a golden retriever, had barked fiercely and tried to knock the outside door down a couple of weeks earlier. They thought at the time there likely was a large predator outside. The morning of the incident with the cougar, however, the dog did indicate anything was amiss.
Braham grew up in Blue River and so is used to having wild animals around.
“There were bears all over the place in Blue River,” she recalled, “but bears and cougars are different. Cougars are hunters.”
The young mother said that, while she thinks it is important that their two boys spend plenty of time playing outside, she is going to be a little more careful checking before they go out. They also won’t be putting any of their pets outside while it is still dark.
Although she loves animals, she felt the police made the right decision in putting the cougar down.
“I think the RCMP handled it well,” she said. “They did everything they had to do. I don’t think wildlife should be killed just because it enters town, but this cougar was definitely very dangerous.”