Cougar, a puma, or a mountain lion, these big cats are dangerous predators no matter what you call them. Cougars are one of the largest cat species in the world, and they are widespread in the United States. About 1,500 to 2,000 of these cats live in the state of Washington alone. Perhaps due to the small number of dangers they face, a few cougars in the state have gotten quite big. Discover the largest cougar ever caught in Washington and see just how big this stealthy titan grew!
What is the Average Cougar’s Size?
Before we look at the biggest cougar in the state, we need to understand the average size and behaviors of these animals. The average male cougar, the larger of the sexes, weighs between 120 and 160 pounds.
However, they can get much heavier as we’ll soon show you. Moreover, these animals measure anywhere from 5 to 9 feet long, with a measure of just over 7 feet from nose to tail being the most common. They can stand between 2 and 3 feet all at the shoulder.
These large mammals are stealthy hunters. They usually hunt between dusk and dawn and use their explosive speed to leap from cover and take down their prey. They’ll use their powerful forearms to overcome the animals’ defenses before biting their necks to suffocate or break the necks of their prey.
Cougars hunt a variety of animals, including:
- Domestic cats and dogs
They are very powerful animals that can live in areas somewhat close to humans. While rare, these animals can even kill humans. That usually only happens when a person accidentally corners the animal or gets too close to its offspring, prompting an attack. Sometimes, though, they will see humans as prey and attack.
What Was the Largest Cougar Ever Caught in Washington?
The largest cougar ever caught in Washington weighed 197.2 pounds, and members of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife were the ones to capture it. The large cougar was caught in 2018 as part of a project that wanted to study how wolves prey on animals and interact with other larger predators, like bears and cougars, in the state.
Part of the project required the individuals to tranquilize the animals, collar and tag them, and release them. During that project, Brian Kertson, found the cougar. The cougar took two darts before it went down. The first one would not stay put in the animal’s muscular leg.
Scientists estimated that the cougar was about 9 years old when they caught it. Also, the cat had scars that suggest the cougar had successfully defended its territory from other members of the species.
The story about the largest cougar ever caught in Washington aired in local news in March 2018. Yet, the cougar would not live much longer.
What Happened to the Cougar from Washington?
Unfortunately, the largest cougar ever caught in Washington was not long for this world. Roughly 6 months after the news story about the cougar aired, it was legally hunted and killed in the state. On September 9, 2018, a man named Brandon Reed found the large cat lounging by a tree near Carl’s Lake.
He shot the big cat with a rifle from about 366 feet away, killing it. The hunter retrieved the collar and tag from the animal, reported the kill, processed its body, and sent the skull away to be checked for a world record.
The cougar was 197.2 pounds when the scientists first tagged it earlier that year. Given that the hunter processed the body on the spot, we will never know if it had exceeded 200 pounds.
So, after living for almost a decade, the biggest cougar in the state of Washington met its end by way of a hunter. While that is unfortunate, one of the scientists said that the animal’s death came with a silver lining. That male had probably created offspring, and it was their time to step up and fill the niche.
What Was the Largest Cougar Ever?
The largest cougar ever caught in Washington was not the largest ever caught in the world. Two separate measures for the largest mountain lion exist. According to the National Park Service, the largest mountain lion ever weighed 276 pounds. Apparently, the mountain lion was killed in Arizona. However, we do not know who confirmed the weight or exactly when it was hunted.
Another measure for the biggest cougar ever found came from the Boone and Crockett Club. According to this conservation group, the biggest mountain lion skull ever was taken from a cat in Tatlayoko Lake, British Columbia in 1979. A hunter named Douglas E. Schuk hunted the cougar, and the skull earned 16 4/16 points. Points are calculated by adding the length and width of the skull together.
That is the biggest skull of this species ever recovered, and it’s a good indication that the cat was larger than most others ever found. However, the cat’s weight is unavailable. Both cats were larger than the largest cougar ever caught in Washington.
The large cougar caught in Washington met an unfortunate end. Yet, it is also one of the few big cats that has an accurate measure attached to it. Some of the other records may be inflated. An enormous cat weighing about 200 pounds is very rare. One weighing 75 pounds more than that seems to be stretching the boundaries of reason. With growing populations of mountain lions in some parts of the U.S., a new record size for this species could emerge in the coming years.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Warren Metcalf/Shutterstock.com
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