Police vow: “We refuse to let cougars take our youth lying down.”
Responding to the sighting of a live cougar near Pioneer Park, city and state officials have initiated round-the-clock patrols at the Mercer Island High School athletic fields to guard the MIHS Boys Football and Soccer teams during their pre-season practices.
“Predatory cougars have been spotted on Mercer Island since the first families settled here during the early 20th century,” said Mercer Island Police Department spokesperson Joe Freitag. “Out of an abundance of caution, [the MIPD] has joined forces with the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife to provide a protective barricade around groups of male high school students exerting themselves outdoors.”
Freitag added that if the cougar is not captured prior to the start of the school year, the security perimeter will be extended to the MIHS parking lot. “Cougars are known to congregate in the drop-off area,” he observed.
“Cougars running wild on Mercer Island are no laughing matter,” said Island resident Missy Robinson, Bellevue College Professor of Feline Fanciology and the author of the book Escape from Cougar Mountain. “The Island Cougar is known to be attracted to firm, athletic young men, with their pungent musk, rippling abs, and… I’m sorry, what were we talking about again?”
Until the at-large cougar is captured, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife advises males between the ages of 16 and 29 to take extra precautions when walking alone in the Town Center, especially near active Pilates and yoga studios, and to remain at least 100 feet from the vicinity of Barrels Wine Bar and the Sano Café.
While the cougar sighting is not a surprise to local officials, the timing is unexpected. Said Freitag: “We typically don’t see heavy cougar activity on the island until the start of water polo season.”