Cougar apparently no longer in Walla Walla area

A mountain lion seen Tuesday near Whitman College has apparently headed back up Mill Creek to a more typical habitat.

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WALLA WALLA - The Department of Fish & Wildlife said a cougar that was spotted Tuesday morning near Whitman College most likely headed back into the Blues.

The cougar was spotted around 1 a.m. near the clock tower of the campus and was last seen heading back up Mill Creek. Later in the week, Fish & Wildlife officials searched Mill Creek for signs of the cougar but none were found.

Fish & Wildlife Sgt. Jim Nelson doubts any future sighting will occur, and added that chances of a cougar attack are even less likely.

"I understand people are concerned, especially with young people and toddlers and stuff like that, but cougar attacks are extraordinarily rare, and you are more likely to be struck by lightning than be attacked by a cougar," Nelson said Friday.

He added that regardless of the recent sighting, people always need to use caution when in the mountains and other remote areas, taking care to not hike alone and keeping a close watch on children.

"It is just one of those things here, that there could be a cat there any day of the year, but there is just no way of knowing," Nelson said.

If the cougar appears again, Nelson said the Department would try to sedate it and relocate the animal to a remote area.

Alfred Diaz can be reached at alfreddiaz@wwub.com or 526-8325.

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