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I think I encountered a cougar - Can anyone confirm from what I saw?

Original Post
Brendan Kendall · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2018 · Points: 0

I decided to ride my bike down the centennial trail, next to the Spokane River in Washington State in the dark, but I had a strong flashlight mounted on the front. When I stopped my bike to put my earbuds in, I saw a thick, but small plume of water vapor float in front of me. It was rolling forwards in the way cold breath does, and I couldn't think of anyone that would create vapor like that other than an animal's breath. Needless to say, I went into panic mode and peddled the hell away from there...

So, based on what I saw, what do you guys think? I'm not so sure I want to go and try a night ride again!

Isaac Bozeman · · Pacific Islands · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 5,912


There are certainly cougars in that area, however there are many animals that could produce such a breath. I would think that a cougar would not be caught off guard so easily (if you did not catch it off guard, it was probably stalking you). In my personal experience (I come from the mountains of CO, and live in WA now) mountain lions don't let themselves be seen unless they are stalking you. I was stalked by a mountain lion for a good 20 minutes and we never caught a good sight of it, until the next day, out of the back door.
All that being said, the fact that it floated across, while you were on a bike, indicates that either it (animal in question) was on a hill, or it was a taller animal, like a dear. It might also be a good idea to invest in a good quality headlamp for future night rides.

Happy Trails!
Isaac Bozeman

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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