"Crowding Out Cougars"

"Expanded development on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, viewed as a climate refuge, is encroaching on prime wildlife habitat. As big cats find it harder to avoid people, many are winding up dead."

"OLYMPIC PENINSULA, Wash.—In the middle of a forest reserved for timber harvesting on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, Mark Elbroch and two other members of the Olympic Cougar Project prepared to investigate a likely cougar den. They were tipped off to its location by a young female they’d fitted with a GPS collar and nicknamed Scalp last year.

Scalp’s collar connects with satellites to calculate her movements, seen as red track lines on the team’s GPS devices. To the casual observer, the tracks she made over about 20 days starting in late May looked like an erratic web spun by a hyperactive spider obsessively drawn to the center.

But these cougar experts had a pretty good idea what the seemingly erratic tracks meant. Scalp was going out to hunt deer, then circling back to nurse kittens."

Liza Gross reports for Inside Climate News with photos by Michael Kodas September 13, 2023. This story was supported in part by the Society of Environmental Journalists’ Fund for Environmental Journalism.

Source: Inside Climate News, 09/14/2023