Discovery Park cougar roams free; tracking collar gone
Posted on February 15th, 2011 by Sara
We brought you an update on the Discovery Park cougar last fall. Now we get even more details about the fate of the cougar who spent some time in the Magnolia area in the fall of 2009 from the Discovery Park newsletter.
A little over a year has passed since people living in Magnolia, especially in the area near Discovery Park, reported numerous sightings of a cougar on the loose. You may remember that after the closure of Discovery Park, the cougar was eventually treed in a big leaf maple near the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center.
Wildlife officials shot the cougar with a tranquilizer dart and transported it back to the wild near Skykomish in eastern Snohomish County. Brian Kertson, a wildlife biologist fitted the cougar with a collar that had a Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking device so he could monitor its movements.
The cougar turned out to be a 2½ -year-old male that weighed about 140 pounds. Biologists thought that this cougar was the perfect candidate for relocation because while he was in the Seattle area, he never became aggressive or stalked people.
Kertson, who now works in Idaho, reports the Discovery Park cougar was still alive as of November 2010, when the last transmissions were received. Kertson says that as best he can tell, the collar’s battery went dead sometime in late November or early December. “This was to be expected,” Kertson said via e-mail. “I put a spacer in the collar that is designed to rot away, allowing the collar to fall off so he doesn’t have to wear it the rest of his life.”
Transmission from the collar was hit-and-miss over the summer and fall. This was likely because the cougar roamed areas without cell coverage. Despite the poor transmission, Kertson was pleased with the information he received from the Discovery Park cougar. “The collar yielded great data, really cool stuff because we could see his exact movement path following the relocation. He appeared to have set up a territory with consistent use, movements, and predation events throughout the year. This is a great sign for his long-term prospects, both from biological and sociological standpoints. The whole effort was a great success, a win-win for all involved,” according to Kertson.
“Hands down, the most incredible, unusual, and remarkable wildlife situation I have ever been part of. A cougar in Discovery Park, and the second one at that, really amazing.”
The other cougar was captured in Discovery Park in 1981. That one, a 110-pound 2-year-old, was relocated to outside of Enumclaw in eastern King County. Electronic tracking systems did not exist then, so it was not possible to follow its movements