Cougar Inside Bellingham Yard

Byy On

This beautiful big cat is a large cougar, also called a mountain lion. It was seen prowling a backyard in the city of Bellingham this past weekend and photographed by the folks who live there. As the photographer wrote, when giving us permission to post this photo, “I hope the article can appreciate that we’ve invaded their space and so long as we keep our distance, they’re really not a danger to us.​”

While that is true, small children playing in their own backyards may be vulnerable; so might pets. But cougars prefer deer and - well, yes, we do have a lot of deer in Bellingham.

According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, there have been only 19 reported attacks on humans in the last 100 years. The last fatal attack was in 2018 near Seattle.

The WDFW website does give advice on how to adjust for cougars prowling inside cities. The advice is dramatic and more than most homeowners will want to do on the rare chance a cougar comes calling.

The folks who took the photo prefer to remain anonymous, and we certainly respect that. There are substantial woods bordering the city limits on both the east and west sides of Bellingham. We sometimes forget that we live next to wilderness here in the far corner of the Pacific Northwest.

We post these photos because this is a dangerous animal and we need to be aware cougars do venture into our city. What precautions we should take - or whether our wildlife officials should live-trap and remove them - are issues for public process. But the fact is, cougars are here.

About John Servais

Citizen Journalist and Editor • Fairhaven, Washington USA • Member since Feb 26, 2008

John started Northwest Citizen in 1995 to inform fellow citizens of serious local political issues that the Bellingham Herald was ignoring. With the help of donors from the beginning, he has [...]

Comments by Readers

Mike Rostron

Jul 21, 2020

This post is not going to make me any friends!

I love cougars. I wish there were more of them and less domestic dogs and cats. In the last 100 years there have been 125 attracks and 27 deaths from Mt. Lions in North America. Contrast that with the 4.5 million bites reported in the USA, and the millions of maimings and deaths that occur world wide each year. Not many people get too excited about dogs. Same with sharks. A couple of people, usually surfers, get killed each year, but humans kill millions of sharks every year—many just for their fins.   

Over decades of walking and hiking, all over Alaska, Washington, and Oregon, I’ve encountered many wild animals, but only been serously threatened or bitten by dogs. My wife, who was a mail carrier, was bitten several times by dogs—but never by a Mt. Lion!   

Additionally, dog feces are a significant contributer to pollution in Puget Sound, amounting to many tons per day.   

But of course John is right. They are “wild” creatures, and one on one without a weapon they are higher on the food chain then we are—so be aware!                      

Some informative links:

“Approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the United States. Nearly 1 out of 5 bites becomes infected.”

“There was an 86% increase in dog bite-related hospitalization stays between 1993 and 2008 in the United States.”

“Dog attack victims suffer over $1 billion in monetary losses annually. JAMA reports this estimate to be as high as $2 billion.”


Dick Conoboy

Jul 22, 2020


It’s a corollary of the old Man Bites Dog story.  What gets the attention is the unusual and this big cat is the unusual and your comments are right on the spot.  Our cougar, as well as Barkley the Bear, does tell a larger story about habitat loss and disturbance of animal patterns and habits.


Nicholas Sotak

Jul 22, 2020


As a dog owner I agree with you.  While I do my best to be responsible for my animal, I understand the problem.  The dog waste issue is significant, and while I believe most people dispose of their waste properly I can’t help but scratch my head when I see bagged poop littering many of the local trails.  I have yet to see a cougar in the wild, and spend a lot of time running in the woods…but plenty of these filled dog poop bags. 

Back to community cougars; I’m not sure if my little dog is a temptation or not, but she’s certainly the right size for a quick snack.  Of course I don’t want her to be eaten, but I’m all for keeping the wild wild.  My hope is this cougar can serve as motivation to consider how future development of open space impacts our wild neighbors, and ultimately our community.


Scott Wicklund

Jul 23, 2020

In the last month, I have buried three deer carcuses on my secluded hillside.  I have seen and heard coyotes but no cougars.  I did interrupt a juvenile turkey vulture feasting on the carcuses.  They say a vulture can smell a deer carcus a mile away.


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