Massive cougar could be largest ever captured in Washington State; biologists stunned

Massive cougar could be largest ever captured in Washington State; biologists stunned

Outdoors

Massive cougar could be largest ever captured in Washington State; biologists stunned

An average male cougar, or mountain lion, weighs 150 pounds. Female cougars are typically smaller.

So when Brian Kertson of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife encountered a 197-pound cougar during a recent tracking-and-tagging expedition on Monday, the biologist was in awe.

197-pound male cougar after being treed. Photo courtesy of ©Katie Kern

“He was a monster,” Kertson told the Spokesman-Review. “A cougar that pushes 200 pounds… I don’t care where you are in the world, that’s pretty extraordinary.”

The cougar was so powerful that the first tranquilizer dart was ejected when the massive cat flexed its thigh muscle.

“He almost looked cartoonish he was so big,” Kertson said, adding that photos do not do the animal justice. “He looked big in the tree. But it wasn’t until we had him on the ground that we were gobsmacked.”

Brian Kertson (right) and Bart George pose with 197-pound cougar before tranquilizer wears off. Photo: Brian Kertson

Kertson said that as far as he knew, it was the largest cougar ever captured in Washington State, about 15 pounds heavier than the previous capture record.

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The tracking expedition, part of a study to better understand interactions between cougars and wolves, occurred north of Spokane.

Despite its size – the cougar’s head measured 22 inches in circumference – the cat was easily treed by dogs.

It was eventually tranquilized and captured in a net, so a tracking collar could be fitted, and measurements taken.

Bart George, a Kalispel Tribe biologist who was part of the expedition, said that this 9-year-old cougar’s diet consists mostly of elk.

Adult cougars typically prey on deer. But there seems to be nothing typical about this cougar, which escaped within an hour after being tranquilized.

Kertson, who stands 6 feet 2 and weighs 260 pounds, told the Spokesman-Review that the cat’s forearms dwarfed his forearms.

As to interactions between cougars and wolves, Kertson said, “General dogma is that wolves are dominant to cougars. I’m a little more skeptical of that narrative.”

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