Cougar attacks sheep at Snoqualmie home

Lulu was the last, spoiled survivor of Snoqualmie resident Miriam Schneider’s herd of sheep.

Practically a pet, the 10-year-old ewe roamed a pasture at Schneider’s Highland Drive residence above the old town of Snoqualmie Falls.

“She was just a nice sheep,” Schneider said. “Her legs weren’t good, so she couldn’t run fast.”

Old Lulu failed to outrun the predator that broke her neck in the early hours of Friday, Sept. 24. Schneider, who found the sheep’s partially devoured body the next day, believes a cougar is to blame.

Living in the Highland neighborhood for 42 years, she said wild animals are becoming an increasing nuisance.

“We never used to see bear, cougar or elk on the property,” Schneider said. “They were fewer, and they stayed on Weyerhaeuser land. I wish they’d go back.”

Chris Moszeter, local enforcement official for the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, set a cougar trap at Schneider’s residence that weekend, removing it without a catch last Wednesday.

Moszeter concluded that Lulu probably was killed by a cougar. But the messy carcass may mean that some other carnivore or scavenger came by later or drove the big cat off.

“It’s really hard to tell,” Moszeter said. “Any number of things could have killed it.”

Cougars typically drag off their prey. Black bears don’t usually prey on livestock, and coyotes probably couldn’t break a sheep’s neck.

Something took the sheep’s stomach left near the trap, the venison bait inside it was not touched.

Moszeter brought his 22-year-old Karelian bear-tracking dog, Savute, but the dog didn’t detect any bear sign.

Killing livestock is not typical big-cat behavior, and cougar calls are rare compared with bear complaints.

“We have cats that will periodically take llamas,” Moszeter said.

But kills of healthy livestock are rare; the old sheep might have represented an easy opportunity.

Moszeter believes the cougar itself is long gone, covering a territory that can be as big as 200 square miles.

The fact that the carcass was not touched means the cat has moved on.

“If it’s a male, then it’s back out on that home range, actively patrolling,” he said.

Schneider welcomes more hunting efforts and is worried that a cougar that has learned to kill livestock may change its dining habits.

Since the kill, Schneider has kept her dog inside the house. She is concerned for the safety of grandchildren when they visit her home.

Her border collie, Buddy, became very excited on the night of the kill, and again a few nights later.

“My dog acts a certain way when I believe the cougar is out there,” Schneider said. “His hair stands up. He comes in the house and won’t let me go into any rooms.”

Schneider suspects she may have seen a big cat in the shadows herself a year before Lulu’s death. She found paw-prints in the mud.

“I could see cougar eyes,” Schneider said.

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