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Richland cougar sighting, coyotes too. Here’s what you can do

This cougar that was discovered in 2005 hiding at a Kennewick auto repair shop was taken to the WildCat Haven sanctuary in Portland.
This cougar that was discovered in 2005 hiding at a Kennewick auto repair shop was taken to the WildCat Haven sanctuary in Portland.

A cougar sighting this week in south Richland has residents chatting on social media, raising the alert with their neighbors.

And recent coyotes spotted near Canyon Lakes and Badger Mountain are drawing similar online concerns.

Though it’s common for people to think mountain lion sightings tend to pick up in the spring, that’s not quite the case.

Jeff Bernatowicz, a state biologist, said there’s not a typical time that young cougars split off from their mothers to rove on their own. They also don’t hibernate, so they eat and breed year-round.

“It’s totally random,” said Bernatowicz, with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife in Yakima.

If you happen to see one, state biologists recommend enjoying the sight.

However, if the cat gets too close or the situation goes south, the state recommends standing up tall and not running away. Make as much noise as you can to chase the animal off.

If you see one on Badger Mountain, call Benton County Parks at 509-736-3053. Otherwise, report them to the state wildlife hotline at 877-933-9847.

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This cougar was shot and killed in 2012 in a tree in central Kennewick by state wildlife officials. Bob Brawdy/ Tri-City Herald

Neighbors on the private social media site Next Door were talking about a cougar crossing Keene Road near the Yoke’s in south Richland.

Yoke’s manager Steve Beckman said he hadn’t heard of anyone seeing a cougar nearby.

“Given the amount of homebuilding in this area, it’s not unbelievable, but gee whiz. I’d be surprised,” he said.

When it comes to coyotes, there’s been increased sightings and hand wringing among neighborhoods such as Canyon Lakes about how to handle them.

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The wandering coyote was spotted in 2016 off Clodfelter Road near the five-corners area in west Kennewick. The animals are usually timid and avoid coming close to people. Bob Brawdy Tri-City Herald

House cats have gone missing, and people are worried about their young kids.

There’s several ways to keep them from attacking children or pets, according to the state.

The animals are timid (unless protecting cubs), so the same tips apply: look big, act mean, make noise.

Beckman said he’s already found a dead coyote near his store. He called several agencies to come pick it up, but no one had time to respond, so he and store employees scooped it up and threw it away.

Beckman added it was the first time he’d seen a coyote near the store.

Jake Dorsey: 509-582-1405, @JakeD_TRI

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